More tears have been shed over prayers answered than ever fell for the ones that were not.
— St Teresa
“It had been five years,” Mr. Long told the detectives, “five long years and more, I’d gone without it, without, totally without, I mean, ur, uh, ah — you know — sex, sex of any kind; and then [on August 7th] I got lucky. It was my wildest dreams come true! Two smokin' hot babes with a room at Motel 6. Which, I meant, I’d met the little hotties at the liquor store, and they said, ‘Like, dude, get some awesome vodka, dude, and like come up to the room’ and I thought it was gonna be a threesome! How awesome is that?”
On the police recording, Long squealed like a gut-shot shoat, recalling his tantalized frustration. “I live with my mother,” he howled in a high-pitched voice indicating a severe constriction of the throat, “and, man-oh-man,” he yelped, “I thought this was it. Finally, this was really gonna be IT!”
A man in late middle-age, still living with his mother, no property or prospects of inheritance, or any obviously marketable skills, not (who’s to say?) good looking or particularly magnetic. But he concludes that the two young beauties found him utterly irresistible?
Long suggested that they couldn’t master their passions when he entered the motel room, and later, after a hurried series of informal cocktails (gulp gulp, glug-glug) our hero says he had boffed the first babe and was limbering up his libido for a second helping when she suddenly ran out the door with his wallet, and “a big black dude came in the room and beat the shit out of me!”
The two women were pros, Mr. Long concluded soberly, and the black guy was their manager. The girls hadn't fallen in love with him, they'd simply pegged him as the kind of sap they and Thuggo could easily rob.
Our lovelorn hero says he got in his truck, drove down State Street and, after tidying himself up at a barber shop, got back in the pickup and went out to find a cop.
He didn’t go far before he spotted Officer Andrew Snyder of the Ukiah PD to whom Long poured out his louche and lubricious tale of woe. Officer Snyder promptly arrested Long for DUI.
The jury didn’t buy Long's story either. They found him guilty of driving under the influence and a blood alcohol content over — nearly three times over — the legal limit of .08. The jury made no allowance whatsoever for Long’s alleged victimization, apparently concluding the one had nothing to do with him driving drunk.
Deputy DA Caitlyn Keane prosecuted the case.
Ms. Keane is on a roll. Three weeks ago she put Jennifer Jackson away for false accusations of rape.
To abridge, Ms. Jackson was party to an act of love with her Willits employer, a married Muslim convenience store owner. She then tried to shake him down by claiming she’d been raped. Sizzling selfie-videos taken from the smart phones of both parties showed that their carnal encounter was plainly consensual, Allah be praised, and Ms. Jackson suddenly found herself across the divide, the thin line that separates the “vic” from the “perp.” She looked dazed as she took the best deal she could get: six months in jail and three years probation, along with a harsh scolding from Judge Ann Moorman.
“It was a shame this one didn’t go to trial,” one of the bailiffs lamented. “Those videos played on the big screen in front of the jury box would go a long way to relieve the boredom of a long day’s work,” he said.
But the Jay Long jury trial had been fairly salacious in it’s own right.
DDA Keane called her first witness, Officer Snyder.
The Q&A proceeded as though the alleged prostitution ring was more or less imaginary. Snyder said the defendant pulled alongside him and motioned him into the Round Tree Plaza at South State and Wabash.
“Did Mr. Long speak to you, Officer Snyder?”
“Did you make any observations while he spoke to you?”
“I did, yes. His eyes were blood-shot and watery, his speech thick and slurred, and he had a strong odor of alcohol emanating from his person.”
“What did he say?”
“He told me he’d been lured into a room at Motel 6 by two women, and that his wallet was stolen and he was assaulted. He said he had then gone to his barber shop to get cleaned up, and then he was out driving again when he saw me.”
“Did he exit the vehicle?”
“Yes, he did, swaying visibly, and holding onto the door to steady himself.”
“Can you describe his demeanor?”
“He was angry at being assaulted and having his wallet taken, but he had difficulty giving me any details, and in the course of my contact with him the patrol sergeant arrived and I briefed him on the situation.
“Did the defendant have any injuries?”
“He had some blood on his face.”
“Did you ask if he’d been drinking?”
“Yes. He said he’d been drinking vodka with a female at the Motel 6. A detective responded to assist in the investigation of the allegations at the motel, then I conducted a series of field sobriety tests.”
“Can you describe these tests?”
“First, I gave him the Stagmus Test. Basically, I held a pen up in front of his face and asked him to track it with his eyes as I moved it back and forth.”
“How did he perform on this test?”
“His eyes were bouncing; they lagged in pursuit of the tip of the pen; and, as they came to the corner of his eyes, they continued to bounce — all of which indicates alcohol intoxication.”
“Did you administer more tests?”
“Yes. Next, I gave him the Rhomberg Test. I asked him to lift up one foot and count to ten.”
“How was his performance?”
“There was an obvious swaying, a circular swaying of about three inches, which also indicates alcohol intoxication.”
“Any more tests?”
“Yes, the fingertip-to-nose test, which is self-explanatory, with the head tilted back and the eyes closed.”
“How did he do on that one?”
“Not very well. He touched the bridge of his nose with the second knuckle of his finger.”
“Does that indicate alcohol intoxication?”
“It does, yes. It indicates — for someone operating a motor vehicle — a dangerous lack of depth perception.”
“The Walk-and-Turn Test. I asked him to walk a straight line, heel to toe, ten steps, counting aloud as he went.”
“Did he understand the instructions?”
“He said he did.”
“How was his performance?”
“Not good. He took almost normal steps, completely disregarding the heel-to-toe instructions, and he weaved and veered off both sides of the line.”
“What did you do next?”
“I had no choice, at this stage I gave him the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) [breath] test.”
“What were the results?”
“It showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.19.”
“Did you form an opinion?”
“And what was that?”
“That he was intoxicated.”
“But if you thought he’d been driving while impaired because of an emergency, would you have arrested him anyhow?”
“No. Certainly not. However…” and here the witness considered spoke carefully, “it seemed to me, though, that he [the defendant] had been more concerned with going to the barber shop to get cleaned up than he was about getting away from any emergency situation. So, I arrested him.”
“I took him back to the Motel 6 to meet the detective and see if he could identify the suspects who had supposedly assaulted and robbed him… and, well…”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
“So, what did you do?”
“I took him to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for a blood draw, which Nurse Brall sent to the Department of Justice Crime Lab in Eureka.”
The results of this test, we learned later, was a .20 BAC.
Mr. Timothy Pitchford, a new hire at the Office of the Public Defender, questioned Officer Snyder.
“Isn’t it true, Officer Snyder,” Pitchford asked, “that Mr. Long applied to you for help?”
“Yes, that’s true,”
“Well, had you noticed any high rate of speed or anything that could be described as “quote-un-quote” erratic driving?”
“He was behind me, so no, that is until he came alongside and motioned to me, I had not observed, personally, his driving.
“And this was at 1290 South State Street?”
“I believe so, yes.”
“And he told you he’d been attacked?”
“Yes, and his wallet taken.”
“Did he seem excited to you?”
“He seemed angry.”
“Was he bleeding from a cut over his right eye?”
“And there was blood smeared on his face?”
“And swelling around his eye?”
“But he cooperated in the field sobriety tests, didn’t he?”
“As best he could, yes.”
“And admitted he’d been drinking?”
“Did you take any photographs of his injuries?”
“I did not. There was a detective handling the alleged robbery and assault.”
“But he told you the address of his barber shop was 1368 South State?”
“Two blocks distance from the Plaza?”
“Thank you, that’s all I have.”
The first day of the trial ended.
Mr. Long took the stand in his own defense, but his testimony wasn’t very convincing. He added nothing new, and may have served his interests better to have remained silent. At any rate he was found guilty and will no doubt go on daydreaming about the night he almost found double love at the Ukiah Motel 6.
* * *
The following day I was upstairs at the retrial of Billy Doak, the Fort Bragg man accused of gun mayhem. Mr. Doak’s former girlfriend, Lorrie Kitchen, had had her middle finger blown off by a gunshot from a 1911 .45 caliber automatic pistol, a standard issue military sidearm until recently. Although Ms. Kitchen — a military veteran with ten years service — insisted she’d shot herself while cleaning the pistol, Deputy DA Davenport was skeptical. The case was first heard in the Ten Mile Court resulting in a hung-jury/mistrial, but, as reported last week in the AVA, Judge Clayton Brennan won’t be permitted to preside over any criminal proceeding more onerous than traffic and fishing infractions for the foreseeable future — which is to say, as long as C. David Eyster is Mendocino County District Attorney.
DDA Davenport called his victim witness — his hostile victim/witness, Ms. Kitchen, to the stand.
“Good morning, Ms. Kitchen. Fair to say you’re not happy with me for sending you a subpoena to be here today?”
A low growl from Ms. Kitchen affirmed that she was indeed unhappy to be present.
“Could you repeat that, Ms Kitchen?” Judge Richard Henderson asked. Henderson had been brought in to preside because of Judge Brennan’s difficulties with the DA. It’s not that Judge Henderson was dozing in the harness, necessarily, but the defense attorney, Andrew Higgins had turned off the microphone at the witness stand when he and Davenport had gone up there earlier for what’s called a “sidebar” — a whispered discussion between the lawyers and judge on legal niceties — and neglected either out of distraction or interest, to turn it back on.
Even when Ms. Kitchen repeated her comment, and the judge and jury —seated on either side of her — heard it quite well, it didn’t carry into the gallery.
Department E is a stately, absurdly high-ceilinged chamber, a bank of glass in the east wall all the way up, the sun-bleached drapes ten yards long and twice as wide. The rest of the room is a library of California law tomes and a museum of black and white portraiture featuring Mendocino County’s judicial heritage. There is a new carpet, but there is no color or digital photography on the walls, save the big video screen, used only for presentation of evidence.
At any rate, anyone who wanted to hear anything, got up and moved closer.
Davenport: “Do you know the defendant, Billy Doak?”
Kitchen: “Oh, yes. I know him very well and I can tell you....."
Davenport: “I’m sure you could tell me quite a lot, but I gather you had a relationship together. Is that right?”
Kitchen: “Yes, that’s right, and…”
Davenport: “And how close was it? For instance, you have two children, don’t you?”
Davenport: “And how did the kids refer to Mr. Doak — did they call him ‘Daddy,’ for instance?”
Kitchen: “They called him Daddy.”
Davenport: “What kind of work do you do?”
Kitchen: “I’m the Wood Lady.”
Davenport: “I beg your pardon…?”
Kitchen: “The Wood Lady; the lady you come to if you need wood.”
Davenport: “Oh. Okay.”
“You must mean the kind of wood you would put into a cookstove, Ms. Kitchen, is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right. Or the kind of wood you might put in a living-room fireplace, Mr. Davenport.”
“Did you recently suffer a gunshot wound to the hand?”
“Yes, I took a .45 bullet through my finger. I blew it off, in fact.”
“Did you get the wound treated?”
“But you went to the Coast Hospital, first — what time was that?”
“I have no idea,”
“Had you been drinking?”
“Had Billy been drinking?”
“Do you recognize this photograph I’m putting up on the screen?”
“What is it?”
“The steps leading up to the sliding glass door. What is this stain here, on the steps?”
“It appears to be my blood.”
“Yes, so this is how it looked the night of the shooting?”
“Officer Guyden took this picture and he spoke with you later at the hospital, as you may recall. Did you tell the officer how your finger came to be shot off?”
“I’m sure I did.”
“In Willits, correct?”
“Can you describe, again, for the jury this time, your version of how this happened?” Handing Ms. Kitchen a mock gun, a plastic replica of a .45 auto, Davenport said, “Here, show the jury how you blew your finger off.”
Ms. Kitchen took the grips of the gun into the web of her thumb and forefinger like a pro. With the muzzle pointed down, her forefinger along side, rather than inside, the trigger guard. With her recently-maimed other hand, she mimicked the drawing back of the slide, charging the weapon in mime.
It was hardly credible. The hand was going back, away from the muzzle, when — she suggested — the slide had slipped — she’d meant to set the little lock on the other side with her thumb and lock the slide back, she indicated vaguely — but the bolt snapped closed and Bang! Goodness, she apologized gratuitously to the jurors, she must have forgot herself and had her finger on the trigger after all, though she knew better and had been trained otherwise. You could tell by the way she handled the plastic model.
No one seemed persuaded, least of all Davenport.
“What were you doing with the gun in the first place?”
“I came out onto the porch and saw it setting there.”
“Was that usual with two children around, that a loaded firearm would be laying around unattended?”
“Well, no, and that’s why I picked it up; I was going to check and see if it was loaded — it was! — and unload it. It happened so damn fast!”
“Had you had any experience guns before this incident?”
“Yes. I was in the military for ten years.”
“Do you remember telling Officer Guydan that you were cleaning the gun when it went off?”
“I may have said that, but I just wanted to be left alone.”
“Do you know Linda Sharp?”
“And how do you know her?”
“As someone who portrayed herself as my friend, the mean little shit.”
“But you had conversations with her didn’t you?”
“Sometimes, about my children.”
“Oh, but didn’t you at one time tell her Billy shot you?”
Davenport paced while the witness seethed.
“How’s your finger?” he at length asked, solicitously. “Is it getting better?”
“It’s, uh … manageable, thankfully.”
“But somewhat shorter, isn’t it?”
A .45 bullet is almost a half-inch in diameter, and considering the muzzle blast at point-blank range, at least three-quarters if not seven-eights of an inch of living flesh and bone must have been virtually vaporized.
Ms. Kitchen speculated that the bullet must have then gone and lodged in a wooden heart, a heart-shaped piece of wood she had decorating her front yard. It sounded suspiciously poetic — if not pathetic — and in fact the bullet was never recovered.
“So you never told anyone that Billy shot you? Is that what you’re saying — you’re saying that, right?
The witness shuddered.
“Immediately following the blast, the discharge of the firearm, what did you do, specifically — if you remember?”
“I blinked four or five times. Then I said, “Damn? Did that just happen?”
“Do you recall anything else?”
Sure, and I’ll never forget it, either: “Man,” I said, “that gun’s got a kick!”
“Prior to finding the gun, what were you doing?”
“Lying with my son on his bed.”
“Where was Mr. Doak?”
“At the beach… as far as I knew or….”
“Had the two of you been arguing?”
“I’m afraid so, yes. We had.”
“But he got you a towel when you shot your finger off?”
“So he really wasn’t that bad of a guy, after all?”
“No, not at all. And I liked him, personally… But, it’s just that, well….”
“Fair to say that your tone of communication at that time was, or could be characterized as ‘heated’?”
The witness said, “Goodness no, counselor, it was more like screaming bloody hell — do you not get it?”
“Was that common?”
“Every goddamn like you know….”
“How did you cope?”
“We took a time out. He went to the beach and I laid down with Nathan.”
So Nathan got dragged in, a nine-year-old boy. But all this happened back in March, and Nathan admitted on the stand that he couldn’t remember what he’d said about the incident the first time he testified. Davenport asked to send the jury out for pastry and lattes, and when they were gone Davenport tuned up his violin, to sing the sad lament about how he couldn’t bring himself to impeach the testimony of a nine-year-old. The boy didn't testify beyond saying he couldn't remember.
The testimony of Ms. Kitchen wasn’t convincing, but it was enough to get Mr. Doak a hung jury — again.
The DA subsequently issued a press release regarding the Doak case:
UKIAH, Jan. 16. — Jury Trial Result: A mistrial was declared by Judge Richard Henderson yesterday in the criminal prosecution of Billy Ray Doak, Jr., 42, of Fort Bragg.
Doak is charged with committing mayhem by use of a firearm on a domestic partner.
Upon returning from deliberations, the jury reported to the court that they were hopelessly deadlocked. Once a mistrial was declared, the foreperson advised the court that the split was 9 jurors in favor of guilt to 3 for acquittal.
After an afternoon case review by the Assistant DA, it was decided that the case should be reset for a third trial before a new jury. The new trial date was set for late February in Fort Bragg.
The prosecutor who presented the People's trial evidence was Deputy District Attorney Kevin Davenport. The investigating law enforcement agency was the Fort Bragg Police Department. The three-day trial was held in Dept. E.