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 ” https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/?s=+cry+for+help+).
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.