Ninja Turtle Jury Duty, Part 1

I didn’t want to sell my Jury Story short by plowing through it, but my new work hours have left precious little time for even eating dinner or playing video games, and so when I arrive home at the dark hour of 8:00 PM, I pretty much do only that. And I’d wanted to talk about my job, too, but I’m still trying to get a feel for what extent I can. When you’re working for an internet company where memes are spoken aloud while passing in the hallway and everyone is almost EXPECTED to own their own blog and have an internet presence, I’m sure it’s no problem that I occasionally talk about my work life. And I will! Later!

Let’s talk about Jury Duty.
The honorable judge Splinter presided over the courtroom, as Donatello the prosecution defended the state, and defense lawyers Raphael and Michaelangelo represented their respective clients, Beebop and Rocksteady. Why am I making light of justice and naming actual members of the proceedings after Ninja Turtles? One, as mentioned, I don’t need any other jurors or the defendants googling themselves and flipping tables over my take on the events. And I would just name them all Bob and Joe or something, but then it would be hard to keep track of who’s who by giving them average names (Sorry Bobs and Joes). So, I apologize for sounding so flippant for something that’s actually pretty serious, but, you know…anonymity is nice.

12 years ago, April O’Neil was minding her own business, running a liquor store/check cashing business in a sort of seedy part of town. Apparently someone had been casing the joint, because they knew the exact time of day (the same time every day) that she left work to go to the bank and grab a pouch of cash — usually $20,000 or so in varying, unmarked, and not-chronological bills.

On this day, she drove back from the bank, and a few regulars were sitting in the parking lot for various reasons. Right as she got out of her truck and started for the front door, a car zoomed around the corner and pulled up to her. The passenger hopped out, shot her, grabbed the bag of money, hopped back in the car, and zoomed off. As she lay bleeding on the ground, some of the workers and patrons came to her aid, but there was nothing they could do, and she died. It’s actually very sad.

Unfortunately, as you might guess when going about your day-to-day life, when the car zoomed in, the patrons in the parking lot didn’t pay too much attention. There are gangs and kids in the neighborhood who screw around, and once shots were fired that got their attention, the altercation was seconds from being over, and the assailant was back in the car, and it zoomed off.

Another problem — for whatever reason that was never brought up in court, but I have my guess — this happened 12 years ago. There were mentions of previous hearings, but it was never explained why that wasn’t settled. The witnesses on the stand recounted this story and were being pressed for specifics by the Turtles, but their stories didn’t line up. And not suspiciously, either. They’re old. It happened 12 years ago. One guy said it was a Buick. The other swore it was a small Honda coupe. One said it was red-red, and the other said dark burgundy. The Turtles would nervously look at their notes and say things like, “Well…red could mean burgundy, right?” and the witness would angrily reply, “No. Red. I’m sure it was red and not at all burgundy,” and the Turtle would say, “Well, 12 years ago, at the first hearing, you said burgundy. Does that refresh your memory?” and the other Turtle would object for leading the witness, and the witness would feel insulted, and it was just hard to tell what was what.

But at the end of the day, I guess you were just supposed to assume that there was one car, and later when the police showed a picture of a reddish, burgundyish car that sort of looked like a Buickey Honda, you decided that maybe those inconsistencies didn’t matter? It was hard to decide what mattered.

The reddish Honda squealed around the corner, up the block, and around another corner. Baxter Stockman was eating dinner with his mother, and the week prior, a gang shooting had happened on his block. So, when he heard squealing tires, he instinctively dove under the table, and his mother did the same. When he deemed the coast to be clear, he peeked over the ledge of the front window to see what caused the commotion, and lo and behold, he saw two figures get out of the car, rip off their shirts, and throw them to the ground. A few moments later, a gray car drove up, and they both hopped in. One of them holding a small bank bag.

The police caught up with the abandoned red car and took a statement from Baxter Stockman. Suspiciously (to me only, apparently), they waited several days to bring him to the station to give him a six-pack of photos to identify as the figures he had seen. He positively identified the driver, someone named Rocksteady, but was unable to finger Beebop. Beebop had been the passenger and was, thus, further away. Also only suspicious to me, Baxter admitted he had only seen Rocksteady for maybe 5 seconds, and I often forget what people I have known for years look like. Police cited (as did other jurors, but it is against the rules to bring prior CSI knowledge to the deliberation room) that because Baxter and Rocksteady were both Ninja Turtle Villains (or “members of the same race” to demuddle this metaphor), it was more likely that an identification was accurate.

Police got a hold of the car and took a heap of pictures. The license plate was flipped up, which showed premeditation. A two-way radio was found in the front seat — a possible communication between the red car and the gray car. Several sets of latex gloves were found on the floorboards. The shed t-shirts were found on the ground outside.

The timeline here gets sort of fuzzy. Beebop got picked up and incarcerated on unrelated charges and was kept in the dark regarding his suspected involvement in this issue. Rocksteady continued his life, although he was constantly monitored by undercover policemen. Apparently these policemen were not-so-great at being undercover, because on one drive with his young daughter, he drove right to the police station and asked why he was being trailed. They wouldn’t tell him.

Police spent their time doing side investigations involving DNA and dog-sniffers, and I hope that information will whet your appetite enough to be super excited for the final installment of Ninja Turtle Jury Duty, Part 2! (Spoiler alert added later: It is not the final installment.)

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