Karma

All unpublished Manuscripts should be considered FICTION whether true or not.

 

 

 

” K A R M A ”

Unnamed Author

 

This is a true story; but all names of people, Cities, Counties and States have been changed to protect the guilty. The purpose of telling this story is not to gain any sympathy for any particular person, but rather to sing the praises of Karma. There are people that believe in Karma and there are those that do not. I happen to go along with the school that does.

Army Miller had been named by his mother. She had always told him that there were two reasons she named him Army. First; She wanted his name to be simple yet unique. She wanted him to have a name that no one would ever forget after being introduced to him. The second reason was that she hated the military and wanted to make sure that he never joined any branch of service.

Growing up with a name like Army, she figured that by the time he was old enough to enlist, he’d be so sick of  hearing Army that he’d never join the Army.  And with the name of Army, she figured he’d never every be able to join any other branch either. She didn’t think anyone would want to be known as Army while in the Navy, Air Force, or Marines. This was a little quirky; but it did work.  After all, who would want to be named Army Navy?

Army Miller was a 50 year old man that had been a public servant for 23 years, in one form or another. He’d been a Building Inspector, Fire Marshall, Building Official and City Planner. Army was a stickler for details, and he was the type to dot every “I” and cross every “T”. With Army, good enough was never good enough. It had to be right all the way.

Everyone that knew Army considered him to be an extreme patriot and a highly dedicated man. His dedication was to the public, to making this a better world, and safer world, and he always wanted the Cities he worked for to be the best they could be for the residents. Unlike some civil servants, Army was here for the residents, not for the Mayor, Council or himself. Everyone knew him as a fair and honest person; much more than just another bureaucrat. Army had never been know to take advantage of his position for his own benefit.

Army had been working for a city that was well established and his duties had gotten rather mundane and predictable.  Army took a job with the City of Abeline as the City Planner. He was certain that he was probably going  into a hornets nest for a number of reasons. The City had just had a house cleaning in which they had terminated the City Planner, the Assistant City Planner, the Building Inspector and severally reduced the department budget. The Mayor didn’t believe in City Planners. He still believed that Abilene was nothing more than a small fishing community with a population of 3,500 rather than a tourist town with the five million annual visitors that it had become.

The Mayor was a supreme politician for his community. He was born and raised there, lived his entire life there except for his stint in the Navy. He was a big burly man of 60 plus and had an open door policy with the residents. The Mayors most quoted phrase with the staff was that ” Six phone calls rule the world.” He figured that if he received 6 calls about a problem, then there were probably 200 others that hadn’t bothered to call.  Whatever the six called about instantly became the Mayor’s number priority for the staff to go after.

Army’s other antagonist was the City Administrator. He also was anti City Planner. He believed, as most of Missouri does, in being reactive rather than pro-active. He felt that planning and using Master Plans were too limiting on the administration.

The third antagonist was the City Attorney. He was a strange duck. His primary function was to mimic the Mayor and see that he twisted the law to provide for whatever the Mayor wanted, and of course, he was always looking out for himself first and foremost. Army would frequently complain that the City Attorney had major conflicts of interest since most of the ordinance violators were usually his business clients.

Army was in his office one day when the City Attorney (we’ll call him Bob) came in and wanted to talk to him. Bob came in with his usual conflict of interest speech. Bob would reach up to the top of his head and pretend to be removing his hat, he’d lower his hand to the table and put the hat down, then he’d pretend to pick up another hat and lift it up to put it on his head.
Then he’d say, “I’m taking off my City Attorney hat, and putting on my new clients hat”. This was supposed to allow him to discuss whatever zoning change that the client needs, or the variance that he needs, or special use permit that the client needs. Army was always amazed when Bob would do this. 100% conflict of interest. A City employee cannot just put the desired hats off and on.  The public interest is always supposed to come first and foremost.

At least two of the City Council members did not have much vision for Adeline either, but they weren’t much of a burden to Army, he just knew that they would vote with the Mayor no matter what the issue was.

Army had been in his City Planner position in Abilene for about three weeks when the Mayor came into Army’s office and said facetiously,

“Well, Mr. City Planner. Have you solved all of our problems yet?”

Army replied, “That’s really quite simple Mr. Mayor. As soon as we start writing ordinances, making decisions, making rules and regulations in the right direction our problems will be working themselves out by themselves.”

“What do you mean by that? We don’t have any problems!” exclaimed the Mayor with vigor and bravado.

“Mr. Mayor. We need to quit thinking of Abilene as a City, and start thinking of it as what it is.  The world’s largest Theme Park.  A theme park that just happens to have hundreds of individual owners. We need to assist the business owners with controlled, organized growth, and services and with visions toward the future. We need to help them with proper zoning, keeping our hands out of their business, and helping them to succeed. ”

This did not go well with the Mayor, but Army would soon prove that he was right.

After Army’s second year at Abilene things seemed to be leveling out. Growth in Abilene had exploded and it was obvious to everyone in control that they needed to make plans accordingly. With Army at the helm, and a great group of people assisting him, Abilene established Master Plans to regulated second tier development, road plans, annexation projects, plans for additional sewer plants, police and fire department substations, and staffing issues.

Abilene even applied for, and received, a Federal Grant to do an extensive Airport Study. Rather than fighting with the Downtown Betterment Association, the City began working in partnership with them to help the business community to thrive. The by working with DBA the city was able to secure a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) and explore several options on how to establish historical districts within downtown areas.

The Planning and Zoning Department and the Planning and Zoning Board had become the busiest part of the Abilene City government. Abilene’s growth and development resulted in a five year growth pattern where building permits went from issuing $5 million a year in permits to almost $200 million a year.  Abilene was the hot topic for the entire State and beyond. Abilene’s primary grown was in the commercial development field. Army had traveled nationwide talking primarily to older, well known, Country Western entertainers. He would meet with entertainers that were thinking about opening up their own theatre’s and explain to them the multitude of advantages of locating in the Abilene area. Just some of the advantages were: (A) Inexpensive land and cost of living (B) Availability of skilled labor (C) A willing community (D) It’s much more cost effective to let the audience come to you rather than traveling around the country (E) Abilene is within a 24 hour drive of 75% and the United States Population (F) There is a large market base to share since there are already several other Country Western shows of similar venues, and (G) Abilene has double the motel space, restaurants and tourist attractions of any city other than Vegas, and draws more middle class families than Vegas.  In Vegas the average spending on a family vacation was in excess of $4,000 for a week, but in Abilene the cost would only be between $500 and a $1,000 for a week and this drew thousands of families to Abilene every day.

Abilene was ideal weather wise too. All four seasons can be enjoyed, and families did not have to worry about the excruciating heat either. Abilene was building music theaters, motels, restaurants of every size shape and cuisine. And fun was also a key component, from go-cart ridding to bungee jumping, zip lines, cave dwelling, carnivals, amusement rides, golf, fishing, horseback riding, water sports and whatever else someone could think up. A person could even rent classic cars to ride around in. This was a haven for the middle class family looking for good, clean family fun on a limited budget, Abilene was so family oriented that the saying in town was that if Missouri is the Bible Belt, then Abilene was the buckle.

Army never sought the spotlight, but none the less, he was in one newspaper or another almost every day. And not just the local papers, he and Abilene were being discussed and followed by every news source within a 300 mile radius. People wanted to know what was going on in Abilene, and not just the highlights about the entertainers. Every City Council meeting, every Planning and Zoning meeting, every Board of Adjustment meet and every Airport Study meeting required Army to be involved, and then he would be beseeched by the media for information. During that six year period it was nearly impossible to open up the newspaper without reading about what was going on in Abilene, and what Army had to report on it.

Abilene and everyone affiliated with it, was thriving. Army was feeling comfortable with his job by this time and rarely received any grief from the Mayor or the City Administrator. He had become well respected and accepted by the vast majority of the locals by now and he was highly respected in the community.  He was no longer treated like an implant, but rather as one of their own.  And this is a difficult transition with “Hill” people in the Ozarks.

Army’s “Abilene” life had run on a pretty much even keel, even with slight resistance, until 1996 when it started to unravel. After working six years as the City Planner for this small  tourist attraction City in the Ozarks, disaster began to rear it’s ugly head. As is usual, when everything is beginning to look its brightest is when the clouds roll in. The activities of the Mayor, City Administrator, and the City Attorney, were starting to get attention from lots of people. The shenanigans they were pulling started getting noticed way too often and by way too many people. There were rumors of payoffs, favoritism with one project over another, and various land acquisition schemes.

Army had been approached by numerous people concerning this and decided to discuss this with the Mayor and Administrator. He approached the subject with extreme diplomacy, but he wasn’t able to do more than raise their anger.

After these discussions Army received several threats from them, and other powerful business people too. Army had even received veiled death threats against himself and his family. Army was still determined to go forward with serving his town, until the ultimate threat came in. The Governor; who just happened to be the Mayors first cousin, supposedly sent threats via the City Attorney that were less than veiled.  Army had no way of proving that these threats had come from the Governor, he only had the City Attorney’s word for this, and of course nothing was in writing.

Army loved his job as City Planner of Abilene, but he and his wife decided he had better resign while his reputation was still intact and before State authorities could tie him to any criminal activities being conducted by the Mayor, City Administrator and City Attorney.  By the time Army had decided to leave Abilene he had many friends, but he now had many influential enemies as well. He decided to get while the getting was good.

 

 

“A NEW CHAPTER IN ARMY’S LIFE”

Army moved to a larger city within a hundred miles of Abilene and started his own consulting business. It was moderately successful, but Army didn’t really enjoy it.  The biggest problem was that almost 100% of his clientele were doing projects in Abilene, and if he had to represent them to the City Council.  His presence would invariably mean his client’s denial.
Army decided to make a clean break from local government and take some time to figure out what to do with his life and career.  He had been contacted by the Country of Belize. They were looking to fill what amounted to a cabinet position as Secretary of Tourism. Belize wanted him to do for them what he had done for Abilene.  Army did check into it, but quite frankly, he was afraid of foreign countries and military coops.  No, a change of directions was in order; but in Army’s opinion Government had run its course for him.

Most people have heard the saying that “Life frequently makes a full circle.” I suppose this was true for Army at this point. While in college Army would earn money by buying and selling. And it didn’t matter what he would buy. But mostly he bought used cars and farm equipment.  He had a system and a formulae that allowed him to make really good money while his fellow students had to settle for making part-time wages of 50 cents to a $1 an hour, by working about 6 hours a week he could make  $300 to $500 per week.  Army needed something to do while deciding what direction he wanted to go, and thought buying and selling might be fun to do again.

About 70 miles West of where Army and his wife were living was the City of Baxter.  Baxter was a small town noted for antique shops and flea markets.  Army decided to check it out. He went to Baxter and was having what he thought was a profitable day. He had found some good purchases that he was certain he could turn for a profit, nothing big, but just some small starter stuff.

Army was in the process of leaving town when he eyeballed a vegetable stand where a woman had displayed some good looking vegetable. The tomatoes were bright red, large and plump. He pulled his car off the road, selected a few tomatoes for that evenings tacos and was in the process of leaving.

Army had just sat down in his car when a patrol car pulled in behind him. Army was not alarmed, of course, since he was accustomed to dealing with the police in his daily activities. The officer asked Army what he was doing and town and where he had been. Army explained why he was in Baxter and told the officer about the shops he had visited, showed him what he had bought, and then explained that he stopped to get some tomatoes for dinner. The officer told Army that some guy had just attempted to rape a gal over in St. Reece, about 20 miles from Baxter and that this guy was driving a maroon colored car.

“So I’m checking out every red car I see”, said the officer. You don’t really fit the description, and I can check out your story with the shops in town, but why don’t you let me see your driver’s license and registration anyway,” continued the officer while Army waited.

Army complied. Army said, “I understand. I know that patrolmen have to check out every possible lead.”

“I’m not a patrolman” said the man said with indignation, “I’m the Sheriff here in Hamilton County. Our old Sheriff retired about 2 months ago and my friend the Governor appointed me Sheriff until we have another election next year.”

“Congratulations” said Army.

“Army Miller,” said the patrolman as he scrutinized Army. “I know that name. Aren’t you somebody famous or something?”

Didn’t I read something about a bunch of government people being pissed off at you?”

With a first name like Army, Army knew there was no way that he could convince the Sheriff that he wasn’t “The” Army in question. The Sheriff told Army to sit in his patrol car and wait. While Army was locked in the patrol car the Sheriff was outside the car and making calls on his cell phone. Unbeknownst to Army the Sheriff was calling the Highway Patrol, County Officials, and the Governor’s office. He also called for additional officers. Within five minutes three other patrol cars, a K-9 Unit, and a State Trooper quickly arrived at the scene.

While Army was sitting in the patrol car he heard a repeat of the APB (All Points Bulletin) that the police in St. Reece were issuing.

“Be on the lookout for an older model Ford Thunderbird, maroon in color, being driven by a man in his mid thirties, five foot ten inches tall, 165 pounds, brown hair, wearing blue jeans and plaid shirt.”

Army was glad to hear the APB since it did not fit him or his car in the least. Army was 50 years old, only five feet five inches tall, weighed 275 pounds, with grey hair. His car was this year’s model Pontiac Bonneville in bright metallic red, and Army was wearing a suit.

The officers kept Army in the Sheriff’s car for over 40 minutes. During this time they were all making frantic phone calls on their cell phones, and radioing other officers on the police radios. Army could not hear any of the conversations on the police radios because the State Highway Patrolman had told all officers to change to a different frequency so Army could not hear their discussions.

Even though the Sheriff had told Army earlier that he would be released, he opened the passenger door where Army was sitting and yanked him aggressively out of the car. The Sheriff patted him down and found a small pocket knife that Army used for cutting string and tape, cleaning finger nails, or whatever, in Army’s pocket. Army was promptly arrested for “Illegal use of a weapon.” Army was handcuffed and waiting to be transported to the Hamilton County jail.

By the time the police were ready to transport him to the jail there were at least 10 police units on the site, including the K-nine unit. It was a regular carnival.  Local Yokel Officers were lining up to have their picture taken with the “Big Shot”, the “Mr. Hoity Toity from Abilene”. There were many, many snide remarks made toward Army.

Finally Army was transported to the Hamilton County jail. He was photographed, finger printed and booked, but he was not given the Miranda Warning, and they were not telling him the exact charges that he was being held on either. Army was given his mandatory one phone call and he called his wife so she would know what is going on and could get bail money together.
Army’s wife and one of his adult sons showed up and bailed him out, however the police still wouldn’t let him leave, even though he had made bail for Hamilton County, because the St. Reece police had issued a warrant for his arrest and were on their way to arrest him for the attempted rape in their jurisdiction.

Army and his family were thoroughly confused. Army had never been in St. Reece City, and they had just posted bail.  Why wouldn’t they let him leave?

St. Reece City is in Nixon County, not Hamilton County. So Army was taken to the Nixon County jail (in the City of Dallas) from the Hamilton County jail. He was photographed, fingerprinted and booked again, but once again he was not given his Miranda warning, as required by law, and they refused to press charges against him even though they did say that he’d probably been arrested for attempted aggravated rape and armed criminal action.  Army knew this was all alie , but there was nothing he could do about it.  The cops were in charge, not him.

Army wasn’t sure why officers were so concerned with his past position in Abilene, but numerous times various officers referred to him as “Big Shot” or “Hot Shot”, or “Mr. Abilene.  Army was held for over 30 hours without being allowed to make a phone call to his family, or to speak to legal counsel.  He finally did get to call his family, but he wasn’t allowed to call an attorney, but his wife contacted one.

Army was very upset and beside himself. He knew enough about the law to know that many of his rights were being violated and that he was being treated in a non-professional way by the police and jail staff.  Army began demanding his rights and started making a commotion. The Nixon County jailers removed Army to another location in the jail where they put unruly inmates, and took great pleasure in doing so.

The jailers put Army into what is called a “Restraint Chair”.  The use of this chair very harsh, this chair is supposed to be used on inmates that might harm themselves or others, and is only supposed to be used until the inmate calms down. Officers are required to be present at all times while inmates are in the retraining chair, because of the severity of this device. Most people have no idea what a restraint chair is. This is a hard plastic scooped chair with no legs. It somewhat resembles a car seat. It sits on the floor. The inmate is required to sit in it with crossed legs, and their legs are strapped to the chair. The inmate’s arms are handcuffed to the sides of the chair pulled behind their backs. Then the inmate’s head is strapped to the top portion of the chair.  If the inmate needs to use the bathroom, or if they get sick and need to vomit; well, so be it.
Army was left alone and unattended in the restraint chair for over 10 hours. Unattended yes, but the officers did come every two hours or so and ask if he was ready to confess yet.  Army asked repeatedly to be released and to have some water to drink.  All pleas were ignored. By the time Army was finally released from the restraining chair he could not stand, he was dehydrated, and couldn’t move his neck. He had to be taken to the jail’s infirmary.  These devises are extreme, even for inmates in their mid twenties and trim, let alone a 50 year old that is more than 100 pounds overweight.

Army remained in the Nixon County jail for a little over three weeks. It took this long for the Judge to set bail, and his family to raise the money to meet the required $250,000. During this three week period Army was abused and tormented daily by both the officers and inmates. There was one inmate that did not harass Army however, and this inmate let him know that the jailers had put out the word that everyone was welcome to “Give shit to the hotshot”.

Because of Army’s job at Abilene he knew lots of lawyers, but none of them practiced criminal law, and even if they had they didn’t want a case almost 150 miles from their practice. One of the lawyers even confided to Army that there were too many political ramifications that they did not want to get involved with.

”I have to live and work here you know.” Was his comment to Army.

Army did get a name of a criminal lawyer from one of his lawyer friends he talked to. This was not an attorney that the other attorney knew very well, but at least it was a suggestion of who to look into.

 

 

“THE CASE CONTINUES”

 

Army contacted the criminal attorney that had been recommended to him. The defense attorney was very expensive. It cost Army every cent he had saved and invested for his eventual retirement plus another $40 thousand that he was able to borrow from friends and family. Between all the bail monies Army and his family had to raise, and the cost of the defense attorney, Army and his family were worse than broke.

More than two years passed, two years of which Army was out on bail and unable to find decent employment because no one wanted to hire a person who was out on bail for a responsible position, especially working for a City.  Anyone who believes in the saying “Innocent until proven guilty” had better never try to get a job while out on bail.  And do not take that approach during  trial either.  In this country, the truth is,  a person is guilty until proven innocent.  After all, people believe that no one gets arrested unless they’ve done something, and it’s mighty hard to prove that “you haven’t done what you haven’t done.”

The delay had been so long regarding the trial that Army and his attorney were confident that the charges were going to be dropped, but Army’s attorney telephoned him one afternoon and told him that they needed to meet to discuss his case because a trial date had finally been set.

The trial was to be held in Dallas City. This dashed Army’s hopes that the charges would be dropped since they were so absurd.  Army, his wife and his attorney met to discuss the case. The three were surprised that the case was going to trial because there couldn’t be any evidence against Army since he didn’t do it.  All of them had truly believed that the charges would be dropped, and this whole ugly situation would work itself out.

Army’s attorney called him three days later and said, “We need to talk. We’ve got big problems.”

The attorney explained that there is something called “Motions in Limine”. A motion in limine is a motion filed by a party to a lawsuit which asks the court for an order or ruling limiting or preventing certain evidence from being presented by the other side at the trial of the case. This is also where the defense attorney must present a list of all witnesses and any evidence and strategies he plans to present at trial, and the presiding Judge and the Prosecutor will rule on what can, and cannot, be discussed during trial.

Army had never heard of such a thing, but as he was to discover, there were to be many things about this trial that would not go as he had ever hear. He knew that he had heard of “Full disclosure” from the Prosecutor, but he didn’t know that the defense had to give any kind of disclosure to the Prosecutor regarding their defense, their tactics, strategies and evidence and that the Prosecutor could rule as to whether it could be brought out in trial.

“Okay, what’s the damage,” said Army.

“Every piece of evidence and all questionable behavior by the police is to be omitted from the trial,” said his attorney.
Army was in shock, “What do you mean everything?” he shouted.

Mr. Smith said, “Let me give it to you by the numbers.”

“1. We are to make no mention of the fact that you were never given your Miranda Warning at any time.
2. We can make no allegations of police abuse or torture. The Judge has already ruled that the police followed proper behavior.
3. There is to be no mention of the APB you claim to have heard because the police logs have no record of it.
4. All photos of you taken by the police have been lost, so our request to subpoena that has been denied.
5. You are instructed to stop talking to any alleged witnesses concerning this case or you will be arrested for tampering with witnesses.
6. There is to be no mention of the fact that the police did not do a crime scene investigation. No mention of the fact that the police did not search for finger prints or any exculpatory evidence.
7. Because of the Rape Shield Laws you cannot bring up the fact that the woman in question has a criminal record, and has been arrested before for filing false police reports, and that she is a known drug dealer and user.
8. The man that you were doing business with at the flea mart has left town, so you’re forbidden to mention him or the name of the shop since this information cannot be substantiated, and would be considered “hear say”.
9. You will not be allowed to bring in weights to put on a weight lifting demonstration as we have planned. I know that you want to show that you can lift 125 pounds with one hand, and that the alleged victim only weighed 98 pounds, but the Judge ruled that you cannot turn his courtroom into a circus.
10. You are not allowed to point out that during the Vietmam war you were a hand to hand combat instructor and could have easily overpowered the alleged victim because the Prosecutor argued that this would prejudice the jury.
11. The Judge has ruled that this will be a one day trial only.
12. I was told that the alleged victim has since joined the Navy. I made a motion that this information should be kept from the jury and that she not be allowed to wear her Navy dress uniform because this would prejudice the jury. The Judge overruled my motion.”

“What in the hell can we do or say?” asked Army.

“About all I can think of Army is I can ask you if you did it, and you’re allowed to say no. I can question your wife about your character, and I can talk about your long career of public service. That’s about it.” Said Mr. Smith.

“Can’t you even point out that I have no criminal record? And any psychologist knows that people that commit these types of crime always have a growing history of this kind of behavior? A person doesn’t just wake up one day at 50 years old and decide to become a rapist,” Said Army.

“Can’t do that,” said Mr. Smith. “I can’t do that because it isn’t true, and the Prosecutor has already pointed out that he plans on painting you as a convicted felon.”

“What! I’m not a convicted felon?” argued Army.

Smith went on, “Remember when you were first arrested it was for ‘illegal use of a weapon’, and I convinced you to plead guilty, and they would reduce it to a misdemeanor and give you a one year probation that would be expunged after the year? Well, there was a mix up in the paperwork somehow, and this is listed as a felony conviction. Sorry.”

Army shook his head in disgust and thought to himself, “What is going on? Why am I being set up? I don’t even trust my own lawyer now, but I certainly can’t afford another one.”

 

 

 

“THE TRIAL BEGINS”

 

After the Jury was selected in Dallas the trial began. Ninety percent of the trial consisted of the Prosecutor making his accusations and giving his theories without any evidence to substantiate his claims. Army’s attorney, Mr. Smith, would object to the Prosecutors claims, but he was always overruled. The Prosecutor was even allowed to introduce into evidence a stun gun,   since the alleged victim had claimed that her assailant had used a stun gun on her.  The stun gun shown was not found at the alleged victim’s house or on Army or in his car, despite Mr. Smith’s objections.

The alleged victim claimed that she had let the defendant in to use her telephone. When she wasn’t watching him she claimed he stunned her repeatedly with a stun gun. After being stunned numerous times they began to wrestle. Then she drug the defendant across the room to an exit door, she bashed his head with the door and escaped. While being chased by the defendant, and running away in fear for her life, she looked over at the defendant’s car and made mental note of the make, model, color and license plate number of the assailants vehicle before running to a nearby convenience store for help.
Despite Army’s attorney’s pointing out that this was inconsistent with human nature, and physically impossible,  the alleged victim stuck to her story and would not come off of it.  When Army’s attorney  tried to press her on this point the Prosecutor objected and said that Smith was badgering the witness, and the Judge ruled in the Prosecutors favor.

Even with nothing for the defense except the testimony given by Army and his wife, the jury was still unable to bring in a verdict on the two life sentences the prosecution was after. The Judge ordered the Jury back into deliberation again. He instructed them that he wants a verdict today, and they would not be released to go home, or have dinner until they came back with a verdict, then the Judge gave them additional instructions;

“If you find that the Prosecutor has provided you with a plausible explanation of what happened that day, then you must return with a guilty verdict.”

The Jury retired to deliberate further. By eight P.M. the jury returned to the court room. The Jury had taken several votes and lots of arguments amongst themselves, but they finally came back with their decision.  Army was found not guilty on the Armed Criminal Action, but was found guilty of the Attempted Forcible Rape charge and the Jury recommended the minimum sentence of five years.

The Prosecutor and Judge were livid.  The Judge told the jury that they had apparently not listened to all the evidence and that  he was disappointed in their verdict. In the opinion of Army and his attorney this had been the definition of a Kangaroo Court.  Army and his family were devastated.  Army looked at the Jury and shouted;

“I guess you can go home and have dinner now!”

 

 

 

 

“PRISON AND BEYOND”

 

Army surrendered himself and was put into the Nixon County jail. He was held there for two days and then transported to the DOC’s (Department of Corrections) reception and diagnostic prison in Fulton, Missouri.  After classification Army was moved from prison to prison to prison, each one being further and further from his wife and family.  This is a common ploy for prisons. The prison does this because they do not really want inmates to have family visits. The DOC prefers to have total control over inmates without family interference. The prison system knows that the families have already spent all of their money on bail, lawyers, and getting through the trial.  They know the families will have a hard time coming up with additional money to make 500 mile round trips on a regular basis to visit inmates.

Within every prison population there is always a handful of inmates that are of some notoriety, well known, famous or somehow doesn’t fit the typical inmate image.   These inmates were considered “Hot Shots”  and the run of the mill inmate would dislike them because they believed the famous inmate thought themselves to be better than other inmates, weather true or not.  Unless these inmates are of the mafia type, they are always singled out by the prison personnel for negative treatment at almost every opportunity. Army was in this category . The Corrections Officers (CO’s) and the prisoners did everything they could to make life miserable for Army.  Army and anyone who was well educated, was a politician, a doctor or a lawyer, or any kind of law enforcement was fair game for being tormented. The other inmates and staff did everything against them, including contriving allegations and violations about them.

Army and his like prisoners were given the worst duties, and the most undesirable assignments possible. They’d make them miss meals because of cell searches, make them late for their Medical Services Requests (MSRs)appointments so the would have to reschedule, make them late for the allotted gate opening times so they would not get to meetings and mandatory group attendance, they’d make sure they frequently were “accidentally” locked down and missed canteen day where they could purchase toiletries and necessities, and these inmates who were considered “hot shots” had two to three times the cell searches of most inmates.

Cell searches in prison are horrible. The CO’s make the inmates stand outside or in the day room. The more miserable the weather the more likely the CO’s are to make the inmates stand outside. The CO’s will totally trash the inmate’s cell. They throw everything out of the cell and into the day room. They open containers of toiletries and dump them out, they tear open the backs of radios, throw papers everywhere, tear up books and magazines, throw out clothing and bedding, and let other inmates come around and steal what belonged to the one’s being searched. Then the COs give the cell the white glove inspection for cleanliness and search every nook and cranny for contraband, (including the contraband that the CO’s themselves planted).  It’s even much worse than described here, I could write a whole book on cell searches alone.

Most people have heard, or even used, the phrase “Club Fed” when discussing prison’s and prison life. This could not be further from the truth where State prison conditions are concerned. State prisons live up to everything horrible that people have seen and  heard of in the movies and TV shows. They are filthy, harsh, poorly maintained and severely overcrowded. These prisons are infested with insets, rodents, and bedbugs. They are cold in the winter and hot in the summer. 

Army was imprisoned in what is called a Housing Unit that are designed to house 100 inmates. All 100 plus share one shower stall and sometimes wait for hours to get a shower.

The cinder block cells are all steel and masonry construction. The cells measure nine foot by six foot. That’s 54 square feet of floor space. Within that 54 feet are two bunk beds, two locker boxes for personal belongings (about 2 ft X 3 ft X 2 ft tall, a toilet, a sink and a built in desk for one man at a time to sit at, and this is the home for two living human beings. This amounts to 27 square feet each man to live in.

The metal frame windows have large gaps around the outsides of the frame (some gaps measured as wide as 1/2 inch) and in the winter the wind blows in non-stop. Army would go to bed at night with his clothes on. He had one thin blanket, a stocking cap, and frequently woke to find icicles hanging from the windows edges on the exterior walls.

In the summer there was little or no air circulation. Even the thought of air conditioning was ridiculous, and the cells would reach temperatures in excess of 125 degrees. Inmates were allowed to have a personal fan (if they could afford them and if the COs hadn’t broken them during cell searches), and if an inmate was lucky enough to be in an honor house they could get ice before lock down, put the ice in a bowl, and blow the fan over the ice and onto themselves.

The beds are steel metal pans measuring five foot long by two foot wide with side that are 3 inches tall. These are much too small for most adult men. The mattresses and pillows are old and stinky. Mattresses and pillows are not much thicker than ½ inch thick that squash down to the thickness of cardboard. It’s pretty common knowledge that a man does not come out of prison without back and hip problems.

All meals are served at the Mess Hall. Doors from the Housing Units, and gates around the yard are open at set times. If the inmate does not make the door and gate opening times, then he does not eat during that meal. All three meals are served at the Mess Hall, and inmates walk to and from, (usually about ¼ mile), no matter what the weather, and stand outside in line waiting to be allowed inside to be served and seated. I don’t want to criticize the food the inmates are served, but the unprepared food supplies are packaged in boxes labeled “not for human consumption”.

Rape, robbery and assault are common daily occurrences in State prisons. Wednesday’s are the worst for the “Newbie’s”. The old heads, who have been down for a long time, and the ones with life sentences especially, will line up at the entrances to eyeball the new arrivals and select the ones they want to target. That night the entire cell block would be filled with screams and crying as the new arrivals are beaten, group raped, and become the new bitches for the housing unit inmates.
Army was very glad that he was over 50 years old and knew how to mind his own business. It really helped keep him from being pressed by other inmates.

Not unlike life on the street, prison has its own value system. It is the young and defenseless that are the desired targets; not the old. Army was fortunate in another regard concerning prison life. While being transported to the diagnostic center several inmates on the bus were repeat offenders that felt like bragging, and instructed everyone else on the bus as to what to expect when they got to prison. It wasn’t hard for Army to discern that a lot of what he was hearing was BS, and a lot of it was self serving and meant to scare the new arrivals, but there was a lot that Army could tell was of great value too. This was the most valuable three hour indoctrination Army had ever received in his entire life.

Army’s initial thought going into prison was that he was determined to come out of prison the same high quality, decent person that he was before being locked down. He was not going to let prison life institutionalize him and turn him into an animal. Army had no idea just how difficult this was going to be. This is something an inmate must work at every day when living in an environment where it’s a life and death struggle day after day. Even a simple disagreement or the act of “Dissing” (disrespecting) someone can lead to getting shanked, or having to shank someone else. And surprisingly, the closer an inmate gets to their release date, the more difficult the Lifer’s make it on them. Shortly after Army entered prison he expanded his original one goal.

What the usable advice consisted of was primarily this:

1. Keep your mouth shut about what doesn’t directly concern you, (which is almost everything), for at least the first year. After you establish your prison social group you might start spouting off at the mouth a little, and even then advise everyone that what you have to say in on the down low, and never talk negative about any inmate out of your group because whatever you say will undoubtedly get back to them.

2. Initially don’t trust or believe anyone until their information has been verified two or three times. In conjunction with this, don’t accept anything from any one no matter what they tell you. Any gift that you accept can later be used to press you into sex or extortion with exorbitant paybacks. An inmate, especially a “Cellie”, will offer you coffee or stamps, maybe an extra blanket that they have just laying around. Maybe someone will offer you some street cloths (which honor inmates are allowed to have), or maybe some Debbie Cakes. Do not accept these normal kindnesses. The one giving the gift will later come back and demand sex, or a payback of 10 times the going rate for the items.

(3) Stay with your own. Don’t mix races. If CO’s try to force you to cell with a Cellie out of your own race; refuse. Go to the hole if you have to, but don’t bunk with another race. Black with Black, Mexican with Mexican and White with White is how it must be in prison, (at least for the newbie’s).

(4) Everyone has something of value to bring to the table. Find out as quickly as possible what it is that is of value about you. Most of the inmates are uneducated, many cannot read or write. All they know is violence and thievery to get what they want. Violence and the ability to take care of yourself physically is a top priority, but education and experience are also of the highest value in prison. Army had already decided to live by rule #1 even while still on the bus. He did not mention anything about his abilities to the other inmates on the bus.

(5) Don’t think that professing to be a preacher will get you anything. Half of the inmates in prison think they’re preachers. Nobody wants to hear you preaching your bull shit to them. And by the way, most of the worst rapists and sexual perverts are preachers, both in here and on the outside.

For the most part the other arrivals did not heed what they were told on the bus by the old heads. They were too accustomed to lives of luxury and having “things”, of comfort. The younger of the new arrivals heard nothing being said except that they were going to be raped and become bitches. Many of them accepted it and were trying to figure out how to make it as easy as possible on themselves and how to find a “Daddy” that would protect them and not “whore” them out.

There was one new arrival that Army paid close attention to as he was sizing up the other arrivals. This guy was about Army’s age, clean cut, no visible tattoos, styled hair and rather distinguished looking. Army decided that this was someone to consider for his prison social group that he would be building as quickly as possible.

Upon arrival the first thing the COs did was to give Army a black Cellie. Army didn’t have any particular prejudice towards blacks, but this was one of the biggest warnings he’d been given on the bus. Army was prepared to do as advised, to refuse the black Cellie and go to the hole, but didn’t need to. The proposed black Cellie was institutionalized to the prison ways and he refused to have a white Cellie. The black was taken instantly to the hole.

The hole is a special set of undesirable cells for the misbehaving inmates. The hole is solitary confinement with no privileges. Thirty (30) days of lock down in a stinky, cold, wet cell with skimpy meals eaten in the cell. No windows, very little light and constant taunts from the guards working the hole. Often times they “accidentally” forgot to feed the inmates or to allow them showers.

The only other Cellie available to Army was a piece of pure “White Trash” named Orbie. The 35 year old had always lived a life of thievery and was currently in for manslaughter. According to Orbie he accidentally had to murder a 91 year old invalid while burglarizing her home. He was dirty, stinky, spouted constant profanity, and has no personal possessions. Army told himself that he was very fortunate to have this piece of living trash for his first Cellie; “Not”.

All inmates are required to bunk on the beds that are assigned to them, and Army had been assigned the more desirable bottom bunk. The first thing Orbie did when he came into the cell from his work shift was to start in on Army by giving him all the cell rules. Orson had a long list of shit he was spewing off at the mouth about. The first of which was that he would have the bottom bunk and not Army.

“What kind of a fucking name is Army anyway?” said Orbie.

That’s when Army kicked Orbie in the mouth and knocked out two of his teeth. Then Army put his knee on Orbie’s throat so Orbie couldn’t breathe.

“Listen up you piece of shit. I’m in charge in the cell and you do what I tell you to do. Not vice versa. Got it? ”
“Sure thing man, I was just kidding anyway.” Said Orbie.

Then Army instructed Orbie to go out on the stairs and pretend to fall down two or three of them. Then lay his teeth on the floor, claiming this is how he lost his teeth.

“If you ever tell anyone what really happened you’re dead.”

“Sure, sure man. Whatever you say.”

Army did not want anyone to know that he was trained in Marshal Arts because he wasn’t interested in spending lots of time in the hole because all the “toughies” wanted to try him out. He also had no interest in getting stuck in the back by anyone for revenge from beating them up.

About two hours after his adventure with Orbie Army had to use the restroom, which at this particular facility was one large room with about 20 stalls and 20 sinks. When he went into the restroom he could hear two black men yelling. Army would have turned and left since he was simply going to mind his own business, but he really did need to pee.

When he stuck his head around the corner he could see that the distinguished gentleman from the bus was being confronted by the two black inmates. They were pressing him for his belongings. This is not something that Army wanted. Army crept up behind the two men and quickly karate chopped them both in the necks, instantly knocking them to the ground. Both men were unconscious. They never knew what hit them and that’s exactly what Army wanted.

Army and the distinguished gentleman left the restroom. Army told him not to mention this to anyone. If either of the two inmates were to ask the gentleman anything about what had happened, he was instructed to tell them, “Don’t fuck with me or you’ll get more of the same.” The gentleman never heard from either of the two blacks again.

Army later learned that the two were a couple of the prison “hit men”, they’d do anything, including murder, for a carton of tailor made cigarettes. He supposed they kept their mouths shut to protect their business interests. It’s bad for business to let people know that some old Newbie kicked your ass.

The first year in prison Army did as instructed. He kept his eyes and ears open, and his mouth shut. He made sure he had nothing of much value, and lived by the motto “neither a lender nor a borrower be.” He slowly built his prison social group and avoided trouble. Our distinguished gentleman was part of Army’s group. He was Dr. Mason, a dentist. It seems that Dr. Mason had gotten carried away a few times with some of his laughing gas and some of his female patients.

In State prison the inmates are given jobs. Most of the menial jobs only pay $8 per month. An inmate usually had to be down for at least five to ten years before they could get on at the laundry or the prison wood shop where they could make as much as $20 per month. However, inmates are allowed to receive money from their families once the families are cleared to send funds.

The families had to make sure they didn’t appear too wealthy, or one of two things would happen. Either the other inmates will press the families loved one for the money they sent, or the prison would start charging the inmate rental for their cell. The prison called it “Condo Rental”.

The money sent by the families was really quite necessary since the prisons provide only minimal necessities to the inmates, and if the inmates wanted anything from the canteen, they had to buy it themselves on store day. Store day at the canteen was an experience. First and foremost, everything is at least five to ten times what it cost on the street. A cheap plastic 10 inch rotating fan that could be bought at Wal-Mart for $8 was $40 at the canteen. An inmate could purchase a 10 inch B&W TV at Wal-Mart for $20 or $30 dollars, but in State prison it cost $237, AM/FM radios $90, headphones (so as not to disturb your Cellie) were $80 and up, a simple battery operated alarm clock was $30 but could be purchased at retail for $6. And groceries and sundries were another story. A can of chili $2.50, a bar of soap $2, deodorant $4, foot powder $6, chili peppers $4, Little Debbie cakes $4, a bag of off brand potato chips (small) $4. Coke (only sold in six packs), $12. Tobacco products and cigarettes were 10 times the street price. Even a 10 cent plastic comb cost $2.00 in prison.

The inmate would submit their list to the clerk and the money would be deducted from the inmates account Then if the clerk couldn’t read the inmates handwriting or if they were out of the product, the inmate got nothing, even though the price was already been deducted from their account. If the inmate caught it the clerk would give them a form to read and fill out, and the inmate would be reimbursed in about 6 weeks after an investigation was conducted. This was a real racket.

By the second year things had become much easier for Army as things leveled out. Army was being very smart about his choices. He had been living by his assets (brains) as suggested. He used his education and experience as his number one prison tool. Army and his circle of cohorts were doing everything reasonable to assist other inmates in making their lives easier. This also built a large group of fellow inmates that would like out for Army’s group’s well being. This gave them a very comfortable cushion with both the inmates and the CO’s. The social group quickly saw several problems within the prison system that they could ameliorate with little or no cost to themselves that would make prison much more tolerable for everyone.

They also knew that some service would be needed by the minorities much more than the white population, but they put the word out that all services were to be dispensed on a one-one-one basis. This meant that their services would be given free of charge to one Black, one Mexican and one White equally. This is what they told everyone, but the truth was that the minorities needed their help much more than the Whites. By doing this they made friends with the Blacks and the Mexicans without offending the Whites. This is very critical in prison.

Army’s prison social group quickly became known as “The Association”. They helped other inmates in many ways, especially for those that couldn’t read and write or could barely read and write. Here are some of the services they offered.

1. The inmates would dictate letters for The Association members to write to their families and their public defenders.

2. The Association members would write special occasion poems to the inmates families. These would be complete with the actual names of their children, wife (baby momma) mothers, etc. The inmates absolutely loved these, and it especially endeared The Association members to the inmates, and this way The Association member knew the names and addresses of their families if there were ever any problems from that inmate. This also helped The Association to know the inmates real name, and not just their street name.

3. The Association set up ledgers of the inmates money so the inmate would know if the canteen was stealing from their accounts.

4. The Association would write legible canteen list for store day so the inmates received what they actually wanted.

5. The Association wrote up debt ledgers. This way the inmates knew exactly who they owed, and who owed them so they wouldn’t forget and have fights over monies. This especially helped the weaker inmates from getting pressed by extortionists. The Association could even hear grievances between inmates.

6. The Association would read to the inmates. Reading letters from family, briefs from attorneys, and even books and magazines. The reading of books and magazines was usually done after lunch and to larger groups rather than individuals.
The Association never charged for these services. They let it be known that anyone wishing to pay for their services could do so by checking with Army, and he would let them know what the group might need from the canteen, or Army would let them know if anyone in the group needed any appliances. Clocks, fans, TVs, Hot Pots, Crock Pots, radios and the like were constantly breaking (or being broken by the CO’s during cell searches) and often time The Association would give their old appliances to other needy inmates and replace them with the new ones for themselves. The became a very benevolent prison group.

The Association also set up a shoe and clothing exchange center where inmates could trade pieces of clothing and shoes for things they needed. Coffee, tobacco products, stamps and Debbie Cakes were always in demand in prison, so The Association tried to help needy inmates out with these too. Unlike the free stuff however, the Association had to do more serious bartering for these items most of the time. They would accept a debt on these, but their policy was to never collect. The closest they ever came to collecting was if “Inmate A” came wanting some coffee or stamps, for example, and the Association didn’t have it to give because “Inmate B” had not paid their debt, then The Association would let the other inmates know that they did not have it to give, or sell, because “Inmate B” had not paid back their debt.

Without fail the debt would be paid almost immediately.

When Army was working at one of the Cities he had worked for he had asked a particular attorney how he was able to obtain so much wealth in land and other possessions. The attorney had told Army that people will give away things in exchange for legal services that they would never sell otherwise. Army remembered this when in prison. He quickly discovered that it was the same in prison. Inmates will give away what they would otherwise never sell. Even though The Association frequently did not charge, surprisingly the inmates did have a sense of pride. The inmates frequently wanted to somehow pay for these services, and the group was constantly getting items of real prison value.

Army was the founder of The Association, and he was the one to select the other members. When deciding on members he had some primary things he was looking for. Army was also watching to make sure that Association members were not making charges on the side, that the group did not know about. Each member was intended to be for one year only (even though a couple did stay longer) and each member should be reasonably fluent in Spanish, and some street talk was also helpful, but it was easily learned.

At the beginning of year three Army had earned Honor Status. This meant he could move to the Honor House where there were washers and dryers, and single shower stalls for the inmates, and other perks too. He wasn’t sure he wanted to do this, because it would remove him from the majority of his clients, but the washer and dryer were a huge factor, so off he went. And there were still plenty of other Association members that were not living in the honor house.

The Association had also become mediators of sorts by this time. They would listen to grievances put forth by inmates, and make recommendations as how to peacefully resolve their disputes. The group always met in private with the complainants, each would tell their version of the grievance and The Association members would make a recommendation to them. The Association would not divulge to the prison population or the CO’s what had been discussed, and the litigants could in their own words tell their friends what they had decided to do.

The Association did not have, or want any authority over any situation. The Association resolved many potentially dangerous situations and were very proud to have made suggestions and helped in this way.

Army requested and received a meeting with the Assistant Warden. Army wanted to discuss living in the Honor House and still having the ability for himself and his group to be able to go to other housing units and help out. This was a giant taboo in State prison. No inmate was allowed to go to any housing unit other than the one they lived in. Everyone at the prison was well aware of The Association, what they were doing, and how much they were helping to keep flare-ups within the prison at a minimum. The Association was given permission to hear grievances in all of the housing units. This was huge.

Forty months after being incarcerated Army was released. Because of a TB outbreak he hadn’t seen his wife in almost eight months. She went and got a TB vaccine shot before picking him up and heading home. Army donated everything he had in prison to The Association and other inmates.

Being released from prison is something almost every inmate lives for, but at the same time it is very frightening. A person does become institutionalized to some degree if they like it or not. Regular eating and sleeping times, locked into a secure environment at night, living in an institution with other people who are all convicted criminals, so no one is judgmental. Inmates have set routines that rarely change, jobs that a person cannot be fired from even if the boss hates you, and as the saying goes “three hots and a cot”. No utilities, no phone bill, and no legitimate bill collectors.

When Army’s wife picked him up he was excited. It felt so strange to just walk out through the air locks. Air locks that he had never been allowed near before, and stand outside in the free air. No handcuffs, no black box, no shackles, and no armed guards. He was allowed to touch and kiss his wife without anyone stopping him. He simply walked to his wife’s car and they left. Army was free; but not yet comfortable with it.

The ride home was another story. Army’s wife had a little sports car that felt like it rode two inches off the ground. They were zipping through the Ozark curves and hills at 50 to 60 miles an hour while Army clutched at the door and the sissy bar holding on for dear life. His head was spinning as the trees zipped by and he thought he was going to vomit. Every time his wife took a curve he pushed on the floor as hard as he could in his attempt to apply the brakes. For the past forty months Army had walked everywhere he went. This ride was terrorizing. He was fully relieved when his wife stopped at a restaurant for some lunch. His stomach was too upset to eat much, but at least he was out of that car and back on the ground.

Of course Army had gotten some news from his wife and some of the inmates regarding situations on the outside, events concerning other people that had been involved in his demise. When he got home his 93 year old mother-in-law (Mary) pointed out to him some very interesting facts. She was a fervent believer in Karma, and she was a fervent believer in Army’s innocence too. Her favorite saying was always, “Karma is a bitch.”. After Mary pointed out a few things to Army he began to do some research and was astounded as to what he found out, as well as what continued to happen as time went by.

Abilene was the City where Army had to resign to avoid being pulled into their criminal activities. Army was sent to prison in 1998. That same year the Mayor of Abilene, who had always been a very popular Mayor lost his reelection, and had to file for bankruptcy after losing large amounts of money in a land development scheme. That same year the City Administrator of Abilene was fired for cause (unspecified). The City Attorney for Abilene lost his leg in a horse accident.

In Hamilton County where Army was erroneously charged with a felony for illegal use of a weapon, the Judge was disbarred for unethical behavior involving a 15 year old girl.

The female that had given false witness against Army during his trial had been given a dishonorable discharge from the Navy after she was caught fraternizing with several officers and distributing drugs to enlisted men.

The City where the alleged incident occurred was St. Reese. The Chief of police in that City was demoted from Chief to a Paramedic. No explanation given for this other than he had received a vote of no confidence from the City Council.

Baxter was the City was in Hamilton County and this is where Army was arrested and detained, and where the false allegations all began. The Sheriff that started all this was found dead in 2001. It was officially alleged that he was pulling a shotgun out of the trunk of his car the trigger got snagged and it discharged striking him in the face. Unofficial sources said that the Sheriff had been found dead in his trunk. Anyone that knows anything about pump shotguns would not believe the official version. A pump shotgun must be pumped back and then forward to get the shell into the chamber and this isn’t possible while pulling forward on the gun.

In 2003 the City of Baxter, where Army was falsely arrested, was hit by the first tornado to hit this city in over 50 years, an F3 tornado. Thirty nine people were killed and the majority of the down town area, was destroyed.

The Nixon County judge that ruled over Army’s Kangaroo court trial was found guilty (along with his girlfriend the County Clerk) of embezzlement and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Nixon County Prosecutor that prosecuted Army’s trial had to put his son in drug rehab. Six months after that his wife committed suicide after suffering from alcoholism for the last three years.

The Nixon County trial against Army was held in the City of Dallas. In 2011 Dallas was hit with an F5 tornado. Massive destruction and loss of lives occurred. One hundred and sixteen people were killed in this tornado. Hospitals, schools, shopping malls, and many homes were destroyed, including their court house.

In 2012 the City of Abelien where Army had been a City Planner was also hit by a tornado. This was an F2 tornado. Much less destruction, no deaths, but 41 were injured. This too was the first tornado to his this town in over 50 years.

Not only was it amazing that all three cities involved in Army’s mistreatment were hit by tornados, Abilene, Baxter and Dallas, but the fact that these city’s had never been hit by tornados before. Or they had not been hit in at least 50 years.

Are all these acts of retribution put forth from some unknown power, or just coincidence? Is there really such a thing as Karma, and if so, what is it? Will anyone consider this hard proof that Karma does exist? I don’t know. Maybe none of us really want to know, but each person will have to judge for themselves. I only know what I choose to believe.

END