Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “assault”

History of Violence

I met a young man who shared with me that he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of “being involved in a murder trial.”  (I did not meet him as a law client or potential client, but in another manner).

I asked if he had been a witness or juror or defendant.  Defendant was the answer.

He explained further that when he was only 17, he entered into a plea bargain to avoid the risk of a murder conviction as an accomplice to assault and accomplice to murder.    It seems that his father had beaten a man to death and he, the son, was accused of being involved.  He had gone to prison as a result of the plea deal.  He told me that a book was written about his father’s case and trial.

I commented to the young man that I had gone to school with a guy with the same last name, but in another state.  I told him that the kid I knew was named Butch.

“That is my Dad’s name,” he said.  I told him where I grew up.  It was a match.  He told me the year his father was born.  It was two years before my birth.

Same guy.  What a coincidence.  I did not tell the young man the nature of my relationship with his father.

My wife researched the old news story about the murder trial.  Part of it described the father’s criminal history.  Butch was known in his town as a bully it said.  He had many arrests for assault and, well, various violent crimes. Tough man. Had pulled a straight edge razor on the victim in a bar during an argument about high school wrestling.  He wanted his 17 year old son to fight the 28 year old who had criticized his wrestling.  The 28 year old, 6’1″, 245 lbs, was invited by Butch to their home to finish the conflict resolution.  The result was a dead 28 year old.

Decades earlier, when I was 12 and Butch was 14, we went to the same junior high.  Butch was in 9th grade.  I was in 7th.  Butch was a bully, supposedly, by reputation, very tough and mean.  I had a foolishly exaggerated sense of self esteem.  I had watched too many cowboy movies.

So, since my peers were afraid of Butch, I thought it would be hilarious to mock Butch.  Remember the song about not tugging on Superman’s cape and not pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger by Jim Croce?  Well, the song had not come out yet when I was in 7th grade.

It would make a better story if I had saved someone from the school bully.  Rather, I teased him to show I was not afraid.  As he ran by on the way home from school, I ran after him.  It was unthinkable to the other 7th graders.  They were smart.

So Butch noticed the laughter and turned around and saw me imitating him.  He came over to me and knocked the books out from under my arm.  In those days, we did not carry books in backpacks nor, heaven forbid, brief cases.

The onlookers watched, fascinated, as I faced a beating.  To their surprise, and probably mine, I retaliated and knocked Butch’s books out from under his arm, to the ground.  Then he shoved me.  I shoved him back.  A crowd gathered in a circle.

Then a miracle happened.  Butch picked up his books and left.  I like to think that he wondered why I was not afraid.  I wonder too.  It has worked for me on other occasions.   My wife, Sugar, has witnessed the same phenomenon.  (See “A Cry for Help on a Downtown Street ”

Butch was either scared of me or he was just in a hurry to beat up some other kid.  I ain’t saying I could whip Butch.  I am just saying that he did not beat me to death like he did that other poor feller.

Woe Unto Ye Abusers

The knock on the door was a surprise.  We have a gate by the road and a long lane to the house.  I looked out and saw a young woman with a child on her hip.  I thought maybe she ran out of gas.  Her vehicle was parked outside the closed gate so she had to have climbed through the rail fence.

My wife, Sugar, came to the door.  She recognized the visitor and greeted the little girl by name.  Then I knew who was on our front porch.  I remembered when the baby was born two years ago.  She had grown.

“Can we talk?  Something has happened.”

What happened is that her husband is in jail.  It was a story of abuse.  Now she is going through a divorce.  She needs help.  Sugar helped.

It reminded me of a paralegal who worked for me for several years.  Her husband had been in prison for 16 years.  She waited for him to get out.  She was happy when he did.  Her loyalty was not rewarded.  He beat her.   One night blood was coming out of her ear. This time she finally went to call the police, but her husband grabbed the phone and told the 911 operator that his wife had stabbed him and to please hurry.  She had not stabbed him, but after reporting that he was in such peril (from a 5’2″ woman), he stabbed his own arm as she watched.  When the police came, they arrested her, even after asking about her bloody ear, because she lied to cover for him by saying she fell off her bike.  I represented her on the charges for assault with a deadly weapon.

I told the District Attorney what really happened, but my client did not want to testify against her no-good husband.  Still, she was afraid of him.  There was a restraining order to supposedly keep him away from the home.  (You know, so she would not harm him again.)  I urged her to go to the women’s shelter.

The very next day after we had gone to court, I drove past her home, which was on a busy street, as I was on an errand.  I noticed that her car was parked in front of the house and she was in it and her husband was sitting in the front seat.  I circled around the block.  I stopped by the parked car.  I got out of my truck.  I went to the passenger door and confronted her 6’4″ ex-con husband.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.  I reminded him of the restraining order.

The wife jumped out of the car, as if to restrain me.  It was backwards.  She was protecting him from me.  She explained that they had just gone out for breakfast.  I was now the enemy for interfering with a lovely morning date (the day after helping her in court).

Not long after, maybe a week, I got a call from her.  “He tried to kill me,” she reported.  She had to hide under the neighbor’s deck.  The police took him away.  Even then, she felt guilty that he would likely go back to prison.  It is a parole violation, as well as a new crime, to try to kill one’s wife.  She told me that he looked frightened laying on the ground with his arms cuffed behind his back.  Poor guy!  (I had difficulty empathizing).

I hope the young woman with the two year old daughter does not get back together with her abusive husband.  I hope she takes advantage of the community resources to which Sugar directed her.

And I hope her husband takes advantage of the hospitality of the detention center for a long time.  Back where I come from, boys are taught from an early age that it is wrong to hit girls.  Some guys learn that the hard way.

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