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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
April 5, 2016

A Day in the Court

Today’s court session in the “road rage” incident that I’ve been writing about on DU:GD since October 27, 2014 went well. Due to scheduling of witnesses -- some are involved in other trials elsewhere in the state -- there was not a full day. In a way, I think that works out for the better, simply because yesterday was so emotional, that people are drained.

More, tomorrow morning will focus primarily upon my second-cousin’s autopsy. In the afternoon, the defendant is expected to take the stand. And so it is better if folks have some time to both process what they have heard yesterday and today, and try to get rested up for tomorrow.

Today’s witnesses were all members of the NYS Police. Some are regular State Troopers; some criminal investigators; and some crime scene analysts. Each and every one of these men and women provided important documentation that will help convict the piece of sludge that shot my cousin and his son. If the defendant ever believed they would cover for him, because of his background in law enforcement, today was a rude awakening.

One of the issues the defense attorney raised yesterday, while cross-examining my cousin, was that he told news reporters (on 12-5-14) something that was not in his statement to police, taken shortly after he came out of emergency surgery. This was that the murderer had stepped up behind him, as my cousin was holding his son as he died, and put the pistol up to the back of his head, and pulled the trigger. However, the gun jammed.

My cousin had told me that, the day after he was shot. More importantly, he had told a woman who was attempting to aid him and his son, before the ambulance arrived; she testified to that yesterday. Today, a police gun expert testified that the 4th bullet was found in the chamber, as it had miss-fired.

Had it gone off, the murderer would have left no living witness to his crimes. What would have been a double-homicide would very likely have remained unsolved.

I was able to have a good conversation with the DA before court today, and with the Judge after court had ended for the day. And I spoke with several of the investigators. Also, I did see a couple of the autopsy photographs. I definitely do not want my cousin or his daughter to be exposed to these photographs tomorrow …..nor his three sisters, or his parents. Or, for that matter, my youngest daughter, who is attending the trial with me. I see absolutely no benefit in that, and a heck of a lot of damage it would do.

For that matter, I’m not looking forward to sitting in the court tomorrow. I’m lucky that a few of my closest friends are attending court, not only to provide support to my extended family, but to be there for me. It helps me to keep in mind that people are good. This thug is the exception, who represents human kind’s worst potential.

I also definitely appreciate the good people here in the DU community, who continue to provide support to me. I wasn’t able to respond to those who commented on my OP from yesterday, but I did read and enjoy every comment. But I am really exhausted, and am feeling pretty sick to my stomach.

I’ll be back here tomorrow. Until then, keep on fighting the Good Fight.

H2O Man

April 5, 2016

Road Rage Trial Update

“One man come in the names of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow.”
-- U2; (Pride) In the Name of Love

April 4 is always an important date for me. I remember 1968 all too well. It actually took a struggle to get Martin Luther King, Jr., to be “officially” honored with a holiday. And I remember when, in the 1990s, during union negotiations with the county board of supervisors on a contract. We discussed holidays. When Martin Luther King’s holiday was mentioned, one republican supervisor told us we didn’t need it off, as “there aren’t many Negroes in the county.” Seriously.

I know, I know ….. I should have said, “Yeah, but we’re a communist union!”

I think it is more important to think about the accomplishments, and the meaning, of King’s life, than about his death. But, it is important to think about what he was planning, in those final twelve months of his life, and about how he was killed.

Today was also the first day of the man who shot my cousin and his son, on October 27, 2014. I think it must have weighed on my mind last night, as I would break off a tooth while sleeping last night.. Maybe it was a premonition of how brutal a day we were in store for.

The District Attorney, who I’ve known and respected for years, did an outstanding job with his opening statement. Now, I have far more, and much closer, personal relationships with defense attorneys -- and civil attorneys -- than prosecutors. But I’ve followed DA’s in a four-county region in upstate New York, and I have long considered this one to be the best. In fact, I helped run one of his re-elections, against a tea party candidate.

The defense attorney opted not to give an opening statement. I don’t know this fellow, but he seems pleasant outside of the courtroom. I appreciate that everyone is entitled to a fair trial, which demands a competent attorney to represent your best interests. He has a job to do, and I do not resent him for that.

The first witness was my cousin. He did very well on direct. The prosecutor pre-empted a topic we knew the defense attorney planned to focus on …..that my cousin, who worked as a carpenter for 33 years, and is retired in part due to physical injuries sustained on the job, at times smokes pot to ease physical pain. Now, please -- before you decide never to talk to me again because my cousin sometimes indulges in the demon weed (he doesn’t play piano, though), try to keep an open mind. His primary doctor has prescribed strong “pain-killers” for him, but he is not willing to take them. His doctor is aware that my cousin smokes pot to relieve pain, and he’s okay with it.

Indeed, on cross-examination, the defense attorney did spend a significant amount of time and energy focusing on pot. There are a heck of a lot of ways for a person to ask the same question. But this got beyond where it seemed like overkill. And it eventually got to my cousin, and he reacted with emotion.

There was then a series of other witnesses -- one gentleman who drove by, and four women who were nearby, hadn’t witnessed the shooting, but attempted first aide before the EMTs , ambulances, and state police arrived. They all told the same basic story. One mentioned something that the thug isn’t being tried for: he placed the gun at the back of my cousin’s head, but the bullet jammed, just before he sped away from the scene.

The final witness today was a BCI Investigator for the NYS Police. She was the first person to interview the murderer. Her testimony really only had just gotten started, when a series of “in chambers” discussions took place. She’ll be back on the witness stand in the morning.

Perhaps the most painful part for me today was to listen to the tape of my cousin’s 911 call for help. I’m glad that I heard, but wish that I never had. It was something that I will not soon get out of my head.

The strangest part was when, during the BCI Investigator’s testimony, a series of photos were introduced (and then projected upon a large screen). The gunman had taken a lot of blood, and smeared it strategically on himself, to indicate serious injuries. He was taken to an area hospital; upon being washed, he had actually sustain zero injuries from the two people he shot.

Other information included that he was well beyond the legal limit for intoxication, when tested more than two hours after being placed in custody, and the description of his massive, entirely illegal arsenal. This creep had an unreal amount of weapons in both his car, and his home.

I was also struck by the defendant’s almost absolute lack of emotion. On several occasions, he would sneer at my cousin. This included a look of utter contempt, when my cousin wept while describing his son dying in his arms. I am convinced that this creep actually feels that he is the real victim here, and was entitled to do exactly what he did. I found myself remembering that, after being arraigned in court, he asked the judge, “Can I leave now?” He saw no reason for them to put him in jail.

I was hoping to spend some time tonight, doing housework, paying bills, and mailing out some things to friends that I promised a while back. But my mind isn’t there. I’m not trying to make an excuse for falling behind on stuff. Yet, even in the hours since I returned home, I’ve had fifteen phone calls -- from relatives, friends, the media, etc. I don’t have the energy that I had when I was young. I will get things out to a couple DU community members. Seriously. But for now, I just keep thinking about how my cousin and his son lived life, and how that young man died. And I still can’t grasp “Why?” he died like that. Maybe I never will.

H2O Man
April 3, 2016

Voter Turn-Out

“I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together.”
-- John Lennon; I am the Walrus

One of the things that I find interesting in elections -- from primaries to general elections, and from the local level to presidential contests -- is “voter turn-out.” And that includes both the in-the-flesh human beings I see in person or on a screen, as well as the statistics that result.

When I was young, I was pretty good at math. And I remember that my father tried to encourage me, by pointing out that President Lyndon Johnson was known for “counting numbers.” So, it’s something I began to do, on a local level. I write things down, and save various newspaper articles. So, in the fifty-plus years that I’ve been influenced by LBJ’s numbers, I’ve got pretty good at local village, town, and county elections.

But both state and national elections involve numbers that some people are fully aware of. Obviously, a computer can now provide information much faster than any previous technology allowed for. Yet there are still people that are able to carry that information in their head. And the presidential elections are, of course, comprised of fifty state elections.

Now, one of the things I believe is that a knowledge of, and appreciation for, both the human beings and the numbers are important. There are times, in my opinion, that even good public servants, as they reach certain levels of public office, begin to concentrate more on statistics, than in meeting with a wide range of people, representative of the population they serve.

A public official may interact with a large number of people in a given week. However, those people will include family, friends, staff, co-workers, other non-elected officials, business “leaders”, and a sampling of the people of their own socio-economic class, and perhaps one level lower.

Thus, from the state to federal levels, even the most sincere public servant has to make a big effort, in order to be in real contact with “the people.” And some of them do. Most don’t; they pay four others to say they do, but they don’t. For our state and federal capitals are “gated communities,” even if it’s made of invisible fencing. (Guess who pays for these “fences”? You do.)

Voting booths are becoming “gated,” too. While there is no problem with “voter fraud,” there is a problem with voter disenfranchisement in this country. At the state level, of course. And this has been going on, in an increasing manner, since the 2000 election. More, these voter-suppression efforts appear, at least to me, to be based more upon socio-economic issues, than party identification. It appears that the primary victims are black people, with youth also being denied their rights in an unjust manner.

We know that traditionally, in presidential elections, a larger turn-out favors the Democrats, and a smaller turn-out favors republicans. Yet we have seen “irregularities” in several states -- and numerous reports of clear voter suppression -- in the Democratic primary. (The biggest fuss in the republican primaries was back when Marco Rubio & friends told Ben Carson’s supporters that Gentle Ben had quit, and they should thus vote for Marco.)

That got me thinking …..there are five candidates left (if you round up, and count Ted Cruz as fully human). If Bernie Sanders is our nominee, we all benefit from a huge turn-out in the general election. In fact, that is the number one way that other Democrats running for office, at any level, can win. “A rising tide sinks republican boats.”

Does the same hold true for Hillary Clinton? That’s an interesting question. Definitely, against Ted Cruz, a large vote favors Clinton. Only a finite number of people throughout human history could be accurately described as willing to support Ted Cruz in any manner. (Always remember that George W. Bush considered Cruz to be “an arrogant asshole,” and George set the bar pretty darned high, himself.)

I think a large turn-out would benefit Hillary against Kasich. A low, or even “medium” turn-out could very well present potential problems that wouldn’t be an issue with the high turn-out. In the 50-state race, I think Kasich does best with the medium turn-out.

The wild card is, of course, the potential Hillary vs. Donald contest. In my opinion, Hillary Clinton does best against Trump, with a small turn-out. As that turn-out grows -- assuming that growth is relatively wide-spread, rather than limited to a few individual large states -- it would likely favor Trump.

What do you think?

H2O Man

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