Sunday, August 15, 2010

Not Guilty

I've known a few people that claimed they didn't do it right up to the point where they were convicted. After they served their times, payed their fines or worked off their debt to society there was no longer any point in lying about it so they confessed. However, I only know one man that was actually innocent every time he got pulled up in front of the judge and yet never got let off. Not that I blame the judges he certainly looked guilty. If the judge had known what I knew he would have been acquitted.

The first couple of charges that Jesse got nabbed for certainly weren't his fault. I'm going to gloss over the details here because I don't want to stir anything up. In point of fact I've changed the names of everyone except Jesse. (Using person A and person B is too much trouble.) The main points are these: Jesse was given a prescription by Suzie Q (not her real name). This prescription was for pain medication. The medication needed picked up from the pharmacy. At the pharmacy Jesse was arrested for passing fake prescriptions.

This would be enough to annoy anyone. Jesse was no exception. No one wants to be arrested for running up town for their kinfolk. He did the only thing he could think to do. He squealed. I think he was absolutely justified and completely right to do just that. The problem was that he didn't have any evidence. So, as he was the one that handed the prescription to the pharmacist he was the one that had to pay the debt to society.

His second conviction was similar. Again he was given a prescription. This time by Juliette (Again, not her real name.) What Jesse didn't know was that Juliette still trusted Suzie Q. So, when Suzie Q asked Juliette to get a prescription filled for her she had no problem saying she would. When Jesse showed up at Juliette's place, he was asked to run a prescription up town for her. He did it and was again caught for passing a fake prescription.

After that Jesse didn't take prescriptions up to the pharmacy for anyone. I certainly agree with his attitude. Fortunately Jesse was still a minor at the time and so he only got a couple of slaps on the wrist. His next conviction could have been much more serious even though it was no more his fault than those first two.

It all began with Brandyn dating some guy's x-girlfriend. This guy was big, bad and mean and passed word through the grapevine that he intended to kill Brandyn. Now, most threats like that a man can ignore, but I will point out that Williston is a tough town depending on which side of it you're on. Brandyn was the type of guy that was usually on the wrong side. (I'm sure at this point most of the Willistonians are laughing because I said Williston is a tough town. Let me ask you this: how many murders do you remember hearing about around here? Exactly! It's safe enough if you mind your own business and don't go getting into things you shouldn't. However, you can end up dead if you mess with the wrong people.)

In any event Brandyn decided it would be best to take precautions. Now, a logical person would have avoided this guy like the plague or got the police involved or some such thing as that. Some might even think that a rational person wouldn't get involved with a girl that had been involved with a guy like that. Still, Brandyn was known for many things, but not for reason and logic. He decided the best thing to do was to take his twenty gauge shotgun and cut most of the barrel off with a hack saw. That way he could hide it in his jacket and if this guy jumped him he would be able to defend himself.

Now, if any of this was known to Jesse it was only by the vaguest rumor. So, when he and Brandyn and Josh decided to head down to Charleston, Jesse had no idea that Brandyn had hidden a sawed off shotgun in his trunk. It might seem a difficult thing to do, sneaking something like that in someone's trunk without them knowing it. However they were riding in Jesse's Mustang at the time so it was simple matter for Brandyn to throw the gun over the back seat and into the hatchback trunk. It's important to keep the thought that Jesse had no idea about the gun on the tip of your brain. It will make what happens next easier to understand.

They had pulled up to a gas station to get a few drinks and what have you. They were in a hurry and so Josh ran in by himself. Jesse and Brandyn decided that it would be a good idea to talk to this bum that was hanging out at the station in spite of the fact that it was around midnight. I'm not sure exactly what they said to him, but it was enough to merit dropping his disguise.

Yes, the bum turned out to be an undercover cop, or narc as we called them, and he thought three teenage boys out in the middle of the night were probably up to no good. To be fair to the cop I'm certain they were up to no good, although I don't have any proof of that either. I feel certain that the Narc was just going to give them a hard time and let them go. I believe he just wanted to put a little fear in them.

He searched them and asked them where they were headed and why. Then he started searching the car. He asked Jesse if he could search first of course and Jesse, knowing there was nothing in the car, told him to go ahead. When he got to the trunk he went to open it, but it was stuck. Jesse's Mustang had a small problem with the latch and it would often stick. Now, the cop was ready to give up on the trunk and let them go, but Jesse wouldn't hear of it.

“Here, let me show you.” He said as he stepped up to the car and hit it just right.

Jesse loved to show people how much he knew about his car. Every quirk, every tick and every tiny little problem, he knew each one. His car was unique, just like he was. He liked to look like an old salt watching someone throw up over the rail on their first blue water voyage. That's why it was that he stepped up with a smile, hit the car and popped the trunk.

It's amazing that Jesse still has a lower jaw. I imagine it almost fell off when he opened the trunk to find a sawed off shotgun prominently on display. The cop was also amazed. He stood there for a moment. I imagine he was thinking “What's with this kid? I was going to let him go before he decided to show me his felony...” The cop picked up the gun and began the interrogation.

“Who's is this?” He asked as he lifted it out of the trunk.

It was at that moment that Brandyn intoned these immortal words:

“It ain't my gun!”

“Well, who's is it?”

“I don't know, but I ain't mine.” replied Brandyn.

Josh and Jesse didn't speak and the cop looked them over.

“Son, is this your gun?” he asked Jesse.

“No Sir.” Jesse replied.

“It ain't mine!” Brandyn shot in.

“Well, Son, the law says that the driver of a car is responsible for anything found in that car.”

“I know that Sir.”

“You want to tell me who this gun belongs to?”

“It's not mine Sir.”

“It's not mine either!” Brandyn added.

By this time the cop was staring at Bradyn. He would have done much better to shut his mouth, but that wasn't Brandyn's way. With every denial he was underlining the fact that it was, in truth, his gun. The cop thought a moment and then pulled Jesse aside.

“I want to tell you that I know who this gun belongs to.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I can't do anything about it though unless you name him yourself.”

“I can't do that Sir.”

“I understand, but if you don't I'm going to have to take you in.”

“Yes, Sir.”

And so it was that Jesse got hauled off to jail with Brandyn screaming “It ain't my gun!” into the night. Now, many of you may be sitting there stunned silent by the fact that Jesse didn't just rat Brandyn out, but you have understand Jesse. He was and is true blue. He is as faithful as a hound and sometimes just as bright. He wasn't going to betray Brandyn even if Brandyn was betraying him. Plus, Jesse also thought Bradyn would have a change of heart before the end and tell the truth.

“Brandyn was just scared at the moment. He's going to tell them the truth at the trial.” He said to me.

He was over at the house filling me in on his side of the story after he had gotten out of jail.

“I don't know bro. It seems that if he was going to do that he would have done it before now.” I replied.

“Oh, he'll do it. He won't leave me hanging.”

Jesse talked like this for a while. As his court date drew nearer he got a bit more nervous. Brandyn had begun to back down a bit. Just a few days before the trial Brandyn told Jesse it was off. He couldn't confess and risk going to prison. Brandyn had just turned eighteen before it happened, Jesse was still sixteen. A very angry Jesse ended up at my house days before the trial.

“Let me tell you something!” He started out.

“Ok.” I said.

“I am going to get on that stand and sing like bird! I am going to to tell the court everything I know about Brandy!”

“That sounds reasonable.”

“I'm going to tell them that it was his gun and that I had nothing to do with it!”

“Good idea!”

As he spoke he was getting more and more angry.

“I will have my justice!” He yelled at the top of his voice as he slapped his hand down on the table. “I will have my day in court!”

A few days later:

“Sixty hours community service.” The judge said and then banged the gavel.

All Jesse's confessions and his best ratting out didn't save him. He had no evidence by that time. The arresting officer actually showed up at his trial and testified that he had good reasons to believe that the gun did not belong to Jesse. That's one of the reasons that Jesse got off so easy.

The Lord does work these things out, however. Jesse had learned not to be too trusting and had stood by his friend until Brandyn proved he wasn't that good a friend. The community service was actually something that Jesse enjoyed doing. In fact, it gave Jesse his first experience with heavy equipment. Years later he managed to get a job doing construction and was actually able to list his community service as job experience.

It's been many years since all this happened. Jesse hasn't had a run in with the law in I don't know how many years. Our wild days are gone and have been replaced by better, if more placid, days. Still, I hope I never forget the look on Jesse's face or the sound of his voice when he slammed his hand on the table and yelled “I will have my day in court!”

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