Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Let Me Know How Fleeting Is My Life. (Psalm 39:4)
Having NO IDEA whether any of you have any interest whatsoever in hearing about the case I just served as a jury member on, I will preface tonight's post with a simple warning.
WARNING: If hearing summarized details of a random robbery case would be about as interesting to you as hearing the dictionary read backwards, scroll down to the Funny Picture of the cops examining the large manure deposit some anonymous bank customer dropped off at his/her bank, in an act of protest (an act, by the way, which I would like to replicate myself, on the doorstep of my local Wells Fargo, for past grievances).
So, the trial finished up today! We agreed unanimously to drop a pair of "Guilty" verdicts on a hapless tool that tried to rob a small candy store in El Cajon with a toy gun.
OK, stop me if you've heard this one before...
A guy goes into a Spanish candy store (aka "dulceria") and chats with the owner of the store (a Spanish lady) about some of the pinatas that she has on sale. He leaves, and her only other customer leaves shortly thereafter. 5 minutes later, the same man enters, produces a gun, points it at her, demanding money. She screams and darts down the side aisle to the back of the store, to warn her other employee (also female) about the situation. The robber follows her back.
Meanwhile, a man exits from the tailor shop next door, hears the scream, and comes in to investigate. The front of the store is empty, so he calls out. In the back of the store, the robber holds the fake gun at his side, tells the two ladies to get on the ground. They refuse, the owner saying that if he wants money, they have to go back up front. She leads him back up front, the robber quickly hiding his fake gun, seeing the man who just entered to check out the scream.
"Sorry, we're closed," the robber says to the man. The man doesn't believe him, and suspects something is up. The robber just smiles and says, "This lady is crazy, don't mind her. She just owes me money." Turning to the owner, who is now behind the counter, the robber says, "Come on, lady, give me my money." He reaches across the counter and starts pushing random buttons on the cash register. In the back, the other employee calls 911, but they don't answer.
Back up front, the owner opens a drawer below the register, grabs a tazer and tries to taze his hand as he's pushing the buttons on the register. It didn't work, since she forgot to turn it on first. So she grabs pepper spray from the same drawer and starts blasting the robber with it. He's wearing big sunglasses, so initially, it didn't seem to effect him. He comes around the counter to her side, still demanding "his" money. She is still pepper spraying him. He looks into the open drawer (where the tazer and spray came from) and sees a gun. It is a toy gun, but he doesn't know that. He grabs it.
Now the male customer knows for sure the guy is a robber - he's holding a gun! So the male customer backs out of the shop and looks for a passing cop (busy street, tons of traffic outside.) The robber finally decides to abandon the robbery and flees, taking the shop's toy gun as he fled. They all watch him disappear up the block and around the corner.
They flag down a patrol car, give the cops a quick description and the cops take off after the suspect, sending out a call to police in the area.
2 blocks away, the robber has removed everything he was wearing except his shoes and pants. He is on a bike, riding down an alley, toward a safehouse of some sort. In a stroke of luck, there happens to be an undercover officer right in that alley, accompanying two welfare officials on some unrelated business. The robber brakes to a stop around a short wall, and is face to face with the detective, who just heard the call over the radio about the robbery. After a brief verbal exchange, during which the sweating, crying perp slowly tries to back away, the detective figures something is fishy, so he detains and cuffs him.
The now-cuffed perp asks the detective if he would please take the shirt the perp had hanging on his bike and wipe his face with it. The detective obliges, and then immediately feels the effects of the pepper spray that is on the perp's face, which he just wiped, lol. He radios it in. Cops arrive, find the two fake guns in the pantlegs, and his clothing scattered between there and the candy store.
The owner, the employee and the man who watched the robbery a few minutes earlier are all brought one at a time to ID the suspect, which they easily do - mostly because of the very distinctive pants he had been wearing, which he hadn't had time to ditch yet. DNA match on the abandoned clothing cinched the deal.
That's the long and the short of it! A completely incompetent, unlucky tool.
Here's the problem that caused a slight delay in coming to a unanimous decision today.
While we all easily agreed that it was proven the defendant was the man who tried the rob the store, there were questions about the way the charges were presented.
One charge was Felony robbery of the owner lady, for taking the toy gun from the store (that's all he got away with). The other charge was Attempted Robbery of the other employee - the lady in the back of the store.
Now make sense out of that!
Turns out, if you take something from someone by force or fear, regardless of it's value, it is felony robbery. I thought it was more along the lines of shoplifting, if that. I felt it was ridiculous to consider that robbery a successful, completed robbery attempt, because he took the toy pistol with him. Going to send a guy to jail for several years for *that*?
And the charge of Attempted Robbery, attached specifically to the other employee, and not to the store itself, or even the owner? He never demanded money from the other lady, he wanted the cash in the till! He did tell her to lay down, but never even pointed the toy gun at her. She didn't comply in any case.
But it turns out, if you try to rob a store, you are also technically trying to rob the owner and/or the employees, since they have authority over the contents of the store. So if there had been 6 employees, there would have been 6 Attempted Robbery charges, whether he even knew they were in the building or not. Weird.
So, by the letter of the law, he was found guilty on both charges. But I still don't know why it wasn't just a simple case of Attempted Robbery against the store, which failed. The guy was a moron, really.
So that was bizarre. I know he was the guy that tried to rob the place - but did those two specific charges get proven beyond a reasonable doubt? Honestly, it took some pretty heavy twisting and turning to make them fit. He was obviously the robber, and he couldn't skate unpunished. But the charges themselves just seemed a little odd...
In any case, he's heading for jail, one less toolbag on the streets.
The question now remains: Is it a crime to deposit a blanket-full of manure at the bank, in protest? Felony or misdemeanor? It looks easily removable - it isn't like it was smeared all over, or fed into the ATM deposit slot (which is what I would have done, lol). I despise Wells Fargo, and have long tried to think of a way to express my extreme displeasure to them in a way that is both effective and legal. I'll have to ponder this one...
I decided to give Hawkwood's Voyage by Paul Kearney another shot. It's a book I tried to get into early last year, and it ended up on my Unfinished Book Shelf. But I was done with Lone Survivor, and I needed to find another paperback that would fit into my coat pocket, to read today on the bus and while on break. I think I'm sufficiently hooked this time around to continue it.
But I need some new books to read. My shelves are pretty combed-through. Any suggestions?
OK, I'm going to end it here and go get some sleep. Got some catching up to do on some work I missed while I was doing my Civic Duty, for both Piranha and the Rug Shop. Gonna dig in and get some stuff done on Thursday.
Hope I didn't bore you too much with the trial stuff. I needed to dump it all out while it was fresh. I won't bring it up again.