Friday, April 18, 2008

Notes from the David Bonds trial, Part Four

Last night, as I pulled up to my very dark house, my phone rang and I answered it. I'd been having dinner with a friend, and the phone was ringing off the hook, so I'd been ignoring it until now.

"Can you confirm what we've been hearing?" It was a reporter. A twenty year old was gunned down uptown at 5pm. The rumer was that it was a boy who had testified at the trial last week.

"It was Guy, wasn't it?" I asked. I couldn't comment. I didn't really have any information other than what they had just told me. But reporters kept calling. And I kept not commenting. What could I say?

Guy was in the car when Dinerral Shavers was killed. He was a friend of Dinerral's step son. He testified at the trial, but couldn't identify the shooter, because the shots came from behind his head. But he did testify to the location and other details that built the case.

When he was called as a witness, William Boggs, the Public Defender, made a big noisy announcement that Guy had recently been picked up on a drug charge. He also announced that if Guy testified, the Public Defender's Office would not represent him on his drug charge. It was one of many bizarre moments in the trial. The idea, on one level, was that if the PD was representing a witness in the trial, it might be a conflict of interest. But the way in which Boggs voiced this, it sounded more like an offer or a threat, ie. "If you don't testify, we WILL defend you."

Last night, exactly a week after David Bonds was released, Guy was gunned down by two men in a stolen van. The van was later recovered after being set on fire.

One of the things I've been meaning to say in all of these posts is that I totally support the idea of Public Defenders. They are necessary. They help any number of innocent people regain their freedom. They help assure that sentences for those found guilty are reasonable. Yet, watching the trial last week, I couldn't help thinking that they must know that there are people they have defended who are, in fact, guilty.

William Boggs had an additional lawyer working with him. We go to the same gym and the same cafes, and we try to exchange pleasant greetings when we see each other. I sat in the courtroom thinking about the fact that all of these people...are people, with jobs to do. And they were doing it as best they could.

And I thought about how each of the witnesses was putting their life on the line.

And I thought about how David Bonds faced two possible fates: a guilty verdict or life on the streets, where he will likely be killed.

When the verdict came in, the PD staff celebrated with giddy grins and kisses all around. David Bonds and his lawyers stood frozen, staring at the floor for a while, as if they couldn't understand what they had just heard.

I wonder what they are all thinking this morning. One thing is for sure: Boggs doesn't need to worry about defending Guy any more.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Here's something to cheer everyone up!

On April 27th, I'll be throwing out the ball at Zephyr Field for their annual Bark in the Park fundraiser. And I'll be bringing a team of pit bulls with me. The Sula Foundation will be distributing these poster-sized baseball cards to everyone who attends; the backside features team bios and information on the real pit bull. For more on the Zephyrs, check their website.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some not-so-grim news

I'll continue and conclude my series on the Bonds trial later this week. Meanwhile, here's some better news.

Best Friends has a nice article about The Sula Foundation. While I'm at it, The Sula Foundation is working on a neat little giveaway item for Bark in the Park at Zephyr Field on April 27th. So come out, and bring your dog along. They will have special dog seating for the game.

Registration is now open for my summer classes at Mediabistro. Class starts May 20th.

Jazz Fest
is fast approaching, and I'll be signing books on the final day at 3pm.

In May, I'll be participating in the Ann Arbor Book Festival, including a workshop, a breakfast, and a reading.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Orleans Police shoot unarmed, crippled Doberman

A brief break from my trial chronicles to report:

Yesterday WWL aired a report on a Lakeview family whose Doberman was shot and killed by NOPD officers responding to a security alarm that had been accidently tripped. The dog in question, which police claim they had to shoot in order to save their own lives, was recovering from spinal surgery which required that his owners carry him in and out of the house and up and down the stairs. The most disturbing part of this disturbing story is that the police shot the dog EIGHT times. Good thing they weren't startled by a child.

You can view the full report here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Notes from the David Bonds trial, Part Three

"It is hard to cross examine a teenager without looking like a jackass"--William Boggs
During his closing arguments, Boggs introduced all manner of theories, claims and distractions, in an obvious attempt to confuse the jury about what they had heard. He went on at length about how careful and respectful he had been in cross-examining the teenage witnesses. Of course, he had already accused them of being liars before they ever took the stand. But in the closing, he insisted that the female prosecutor would have been far rougher on the girls if he had been in his shoes. She would have asked things that he was far to respectful to even consider saying, because it would have made him look bad. The female prosecutor, he claimed, would have asked "why they dress the way they do. She would have asked what they were doing spending time with so many boys..." And so, he did ask those questions, but without being brave enough to own it.

Where in the world is Katrina Martin?
David Bonds didn't have an alibi for the time of the killing. In fact, the closest thing he had was vague testimony to having visited multiple girlfriends between the time of 4pm and 7pm. He had been out late dealing drugs the night before, and rose at about 3pm. But he isn't sure of the time of any of these events. He went out and delivered a bike to a fellow drug dealer, rode around a someone else's dirt bike (but he can't recall who it belonged to), and he was living, at the time, with a family friend, an "aunt", named Katrina Martin. Although he gave an Dumaine Street address to the police when he was arrested, no one was able to locate Aunt Katrina. 18 months later, this family friend, who had known him since he was a child, is still missing. He also says the Dumaine Street address is not information he provided to the police, and that he lived near that location, but not at that location. So, even by his own testimony, he was living and dealing drugs in the 6th Ward, and was well-known around the corner grocery store around the corner from where Dinerral was killed. Aunt Katrina wasn't the only one missing from the courtroom. In fact, the total absence of anyone sitting in support of David Bonds became part of the defense as well. "Don't punish him just because he is alone in this world," Boggs said. And I wondered: Isn't it possible there's a reason no one wants to sit with this guy?"