Mendocino County Today: December 22, 2013
by AVA News Service, December 21, 2013
FISHING THE NIGHT DEPOSIT BOX. An arrest has been made in a series of thefts involving bank deposits being fished out of banks, the Fort Bragg Police Department said Friday. According to the FBPD, a caller at the Savings Bank of Mendocino County on South Franklin Street reported at 4:35 pm Monday that checks had been stolen from the bank's night deposit box. A customer complained that checks deposited on November 28 had not been credited to the proper account, and when surveillance video was checked a man was seen fishing the deposits out of the box using glue trap strips. Similar thefts by the same suspects were reported in Redding, Ukiah and Crescent City. On December 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the FBPD that one suspect had been arrested in Oregon on suspicion of committing the same type of crime, though no suspect information was given. The FBI has taken over the investigation and prosecution of the case, and is looking for a second person assumed to be involved.
MK WRITES: I've enjoyed seeing other people's booklists. The mention of Orwell's “Homage to Catalonia" reminded me Arundhati Roy's "Walking with the Comrades” (2011). Roy joins with revolutionaries in the Indian forest and reports back on their movements and struggle. Reading it you realize the Great Revolution has already begun, we just don't know it yet. A short but important book, with photos.
Two other recent literary discoveries, for me, were Herman Melville's first two novels: “Typee” and “Omoo” — ripping yarns of the South Pacific in the 1840s. Both novels are in the form of autobiographical narrative, so you get a strong sense of what a first-class adventurer Herman was in his youth. After reading them, it becomes easier to understand how he could end up writing “Moby Dick.”
JOHN COATE’S TOP TEN
Hi, Guys: John Coate here. I know you don't think much of my managerial abilities as boss at Public Radio Mendocino County, but it is the season of bonhomie and all that conciliatory bullshit, so I'd like to contribute to the favorite books thing you've been running in your so-called — oops! I didn't mean “so called” newspaper, of course; it just sorta slipped out. Sorry for the accidental negativity. Anyhoo, here's my all-timers:
1. My Life As A Dog by Lassie. I read it a couple of times a year, especially the parts about how Lass (as I call her) learns how to get along with cats. This invaluable lesson has helped me a whole bunch managing things in Philo.
2. Travels With Charlie (Acker) by Joel Waldman. Elk's dual polymaths chat as they stroll the ocean bluffs. I was grabbed from the opening sentence: "No, no, Joel," Charlie exclaimed. "The Mexicans have it all wrong. This is how you build a taco!" Fascinating read by two fascinating guys.
3. Goodnight Moon, by Stella Cadente. At last an accessible book on astronomy.
4. Effective Passive Aggression by Michael Kisslinger. Say what you will about the ponderous Ukiah gasbag, he knows his onions.
5. International Douchebag-ism by Scott Simon. The greatest personal growth movement sense TM. The famous NPR host (and personal friend of mine) sets the bar pretty high, but for false feeling, hysterical laughter at un-amusing guest comments, and general bum nuzzling, the only difference between me and Scott is I'm in Philo and he's wherever, puckering up.
6. These Fat Ladies Will Never Sing! I wrote this one myself. It's about my board of directors, the greatest female human beings ever to roll a doob in Mendocino County! They'll never fire me because, well, they aren't the sharpest babes you'll meet, but don't you dare say that around me.
7. My Story by Mary Aigner. A touching memoir by a single mom who fights her way though twenty miles of hippies to achieve a top management position at Mendocino County Public Radio.
8. Home Circumcision by Dr. Marvin Trotter. It kinda hurts, but I did myself and Dr. Richard Miller right here at the station, on the air, and it was great radio except for Sister Yasmin calling in to screech, “Deeper! Cut deeper!”
9. Resume Building by Mike Sweeney. This Maoist cult maniac blew up stuff all over NorCal, including a hangar in Santa Rosa and his ex-wife, but he moves to Mendo and totally re-invents himself as a highly paid garbage expert. I owe him and his how-to manual everything. As you guys are always saying, “History starts all over every day in Mendocino County, and you are whatever you say you are.” Damn straight.
10. Good Night Moon. Oh, I already listed that one. Thanks for listening, as we say in radio and…
Happy New Year,
John Coate, KZYX
LIKE, WHATEVER, DUDE
When it comes to phrases that annoy, it looks like it's “whatever” — forever.
Pollsters at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, found that Americans considered “whatever” to be the most annoying word or phrase in conversation for a fifth straight year.
“Whatever” was judged most annoying in conversation by 38% of adults, followed by “like” at 22% and “you know” at 18%.
Bringing up the rear were “just sayin', and “obviously.”
“Perhaps these words are introduced through popular culture, for example movies ... so they catch on,” said Mary Azzoli, of Marist.
“It has a lot to do with how accepted and how popular they become in every day speech.'
“Whatever” has had people grinding their teeth for decades after the catchphrase of Nineties Valley girls in California went global thanks to movies such as Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash and Elisa Donovan.
The number of people irritated by “whatever” was up 6% on last year, the poll revealed.
Those who were most annoyed by the catchphrase were men from the Midwest, aged 45 to 59, who hadn't been to college.
Pollsters also asked what political word or phrase Americans would like to do away with in 2014 with “Obamacare” topping the list for 41% of people.
Almost a third (30%) would like “shutdown” banned from conversation and 11% “gridlock.” One in ten people asked do not want to hear “fiscal cliff” and 4% “sequestration.”
The survey is split down the middle depending on political allegiance.
“Obamacare” is the most despised word by 59% of Republicans while 45% of Democrats shudder at the word “shutdown.”
The telephone poll of 1,173 adults living in the continental United States was conducted from December 3-5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
THE ARTIST AS MONSTER
Julian Barnes on Lucian Freud in the London Review of Books:
On Capri they show you the sheer cliff from which those who displeased the Emperor Tiberius were reportedly flung (though the Capresi, who call him by the softer name of Timberio, insist that the death toll was much exaggerated by muck-rakers like Suetonius). The court of Freud was similarly absolutist in its punishments: if you displeased him---by bad timekeeping, unprofessionalism, or disobedience to his will---you were tossed over the cliff.
In the painting above which shows [Francis] Wyndham flaubertizing in the foreground, the background originally held the figure of the model Jerry Hall breastfeeding her baby. She sat thus for several months, until one day she called in sick. When, a couple of days later, she was still unfit to pose, the enraged Freud painted over her face and inserted that of his long-time assistant David Dawson. But the baby had not caused offence, so was not painted out, with the result that a naked and strangely breasted Dawson is now seen feeding the child. Freud’s American dealer assumed the picture would be unsellable; it was bought by the first American client he showed it to.
THE MEANING OF MISTLETOE
Why does the presence of mistletoe —a parasitic plant that roots in oaks and other host trees— confer the right to kiss whoever you're with?
The answer occurred to John Lee, MD, a family practitioner in Mill Valley, back in 1967. Lee was then editing the Marin Medical Society Bulletin and on the lookout for topics for his monthly column. He came across an article in a Harvard alumni publication describing the pagan rituals of the Celts who lived in the British Isles in the millennium before Christ. For their winter solstice celebration, the Celtic priests —Druids— would collect berries from trees bearing mistletoe.
Coincidentally, Lee had just read an item in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that mistletoe contains a compound very similar to progesterone. He had an insight: "The berries were life in the middle of that cold European winter, when everything else was bleak and apparently lifeless. The Druids called mistletoe 'a gift from the gods.' They would take these berries and mix them with hot mead [an alcohol drink made from fermented honey] and they would all have a weeklong party where gifts were exchanged and they would celebrate that the sun was going to return and winter would not mean the end of the world.
"When a woman takes progesterone and then quits, a period is induced. I realized the mead laced with mistletoe would decrease everyone's inhibitions and increase everyone's libido for their four- or five-day party. It was free sex! And after four or five days of celebration they would quit. All the women would have their periods, and no babies would occur. No wonder they called it 'a gift from the Gods!"
Lee compares the discovery that mistletoe prevented pregnancy to the discovery that limes prevented scurvy —a major advance in the annals of medicine. "The sailors didn't know it was Vitamin C. The Celts didn't know it was progesterone. They just knew it worked." Lee hypothesized that kissing under the mistletoe is a form of "symbolic sexual promiscuity" going back to the days when the berries served as a birth-control device during pagan winter solstice parties (the persecuted Christians having scheduled their own holidays to coincide with existing celebrations).
Lee's editorial evoked no response from the readers of the Marin Medical Society Bulletin —maybe they were disturbed by the juxtaposition of Christmas and sex— and never made it into the general lore. But have you ever heard a more plausible explanation of the tradition?
A gift from the Gods, indeed.
Lee's Rx: Natural Progresterone
In his Mill Valley practice Dr. Lee occasionally would see women who were hormone-deficient and had osteoporosis. He couldn't recommend estrogen, which the pharmaceutical companies marketed in synthetic form, because he knew it had serious detrimental effects (promotion of endometrial cancer among them). Lee thought, "What if I recommend progesterone, which is made from plants?" At his suggestion a few women tried it, "And lo and behold it helped their osteoporosis," he says.
Lee retired in 1989, after practicing medicine for 34 years, to write up and disseminate his ideas, which constitute a wide-ranging critique of how medicine is practiced in this country. He moved to an old farmhouse in Sebastopol. His first book, "Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone," was written with doctors in mind and brought out in 1993 by Ajalon Press, a small local publisher. It soon built up an underground reputation among women seeking to educate themselves on menopause and hormone balance; the edition of 5,000 copies sold out.
In May, 1996, Warners published a version for the lay reader (written with Virginia Hopkins), "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause." When I interviewed Lee that October the book was in its third or fourth printing (without the stimulus of advertising), and he was getting phone calls and faxes every day, many from doctors whose patients had turned them on to the book. The ob/gyn establishment, however, continued to insist that the unwanted consequences of menopause are best treated by estrogen supplements.
Lee tried to tell the world that progesterone, which is produced by the body in connection with ovulation and serves to modulate the effects of estrogen, is the hormone most significantly lacking in menopausal women (as a result of poisons, including unnatural estrogens, in the food, air and water, plus the sedentary lifestyle forced on most of us in the name of progress).
Lee emphasized the distinction between natural progesterone and the various synthetic versions (such as the “progestin” in Wyeth’s Premarin) given to millions of women who opt for hormone replacement therapy. As a result of systematic miseducation by the pharmaceutical companies, he said, "Most doctors think the synthetics are actual progesterone... Doctors should recall that 'synthetic' means that it's not found in nature —there's no plant, no tree, no animal that makes it, it's a compound foreign to the body— whereas real progesterone is a natural compound that's synthesized in the body from cholesterol."
Natural progesterone can also be obtained from Mexican yams in a form identical to the molecule found in the body; the pharmaceutical companies produce large supplies to use as the base material to make their synthetics. "The pharmaceutical companies prefer the synthetic versions for the simple and obvious reason that they are patentable," Lee said. Natural progesterone has been on the market as a cream sold over-the-counter since 1936. Most doctors don't advocate its use because, according to Lee, "It would diminish their control over their patients: no prescription is required."
— Fred Gardner
DATA WILL STEER COUNTY’S DECISION ON MJ ENERGY USE TAX
by Daniel Mintz
In considering an excessive energy tax similar to Arcata’s, the county will have the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) produce data on power usage levels in unincorporated areas.
When Arcata voters passed a ballot measure last year levying a tax on excessive energy use, county officials and those in other cities forecasted migrations of indoor marijuana growers. And at the Dec. 17 Board of Supervisors meeting, county staff got the go-ahead for a first step in deciding whether a tax mirroring Arcata’s should be advanced.
PG&E will gather and submit information on the number of electricity customers in unincorporated areas whose use exceeds 600 percent of baseline. The data will be aggregated and won’t reveal individual use.
It will quantify total energy usage for the last three years and also include aggregated counts of customers whose use exceeded the 600 percent standard for each of the three years.
Arcata’s program assesses a 45 percent tax on residential meters that exceed the threshold. PG& E representative Allison Talbot said Arcata’s program doesn’t reveal information about individuals and that her company doesn’t profit from the tax.
Arcata’s program has PG&E billing and collecting the tax, then forwarding the revenue to the city.
Newly-appointed Board Chairman Rex Bohn is coordinating the effort with Supervisor Ryan Sundberg. Bohn said the exodus of growers from Arcata seems to be well underway.
“We’re worried about having people just packing up their things and moving into another residential neighborhood in the county,” he said. “That’s why we’re looking at this, because I think we’re seeing some numbers out of Arcata that aren’t as extreme as they thought and I think people have started moving already.”
Talbot said that since the tax was implemented in Arcata, there’s been a “significant decrease” of customers whose use exceeds 600 percent of baseline.
Supervisor Estelle Fennell said she’s gotten questions about how much it will cost for the county to have an Arcata-like program. Talbot said much of Arcata’s costs were absorbed in “building a program” and that’s already been done.
“So I do not anticipate that the county will see the same costs,” she continued.
Supervisor Mark Lovelace emphasized that the data collection agreement doesn’t commit the county to going ahead with a tax.
“Clearly, there’s a lot of interest across the board here in doing this but whether or not we go forward has to be based on information,” he said “Getting this information is a good starting point.”
Supervisors unanimously voted to direct staff to enter an agreement with PG&E. The data collection is expected to cost the county between $500 and $1,000 and staff was also directed to find a source for the spending in the county budget.
Later that day, the Eureka City Council decided to enter a similar data collection agreement with PG&E to assess whether an energy tax should be pursued there.
VULTURES & SHITBIRDS
by Brook Smalle
When Bill Zacha died back in ‘98, the vultures descended. They’d been here for some time already. Sizing the place up. Circling. As he drew his last breath, they licked their pointy beaks. Imagining the meal to come. It wouldn’t disappoint. It couldn’t. And it didn’t.
The Mendocino Art Center is sacred on the Coast. Irreplaceable. Losing it is unthinkable. That’s what the vultures counted on. Their meal would be one of a soft white underbelly. Bloated with opportunity. Feeding would be easy. Without risk. After all, the Art Center is a charity.
Their arrival was calculated. Protected with a simple rule change. Forty years of membership voting would disappear with the stroke of a pen. Quietly. And without protest. The vultures wore hand-woven clothing. They listened to NPR. Ate pricy vegan cuisine. In five years, they took over. Easily.
They were common vultures. Born common. With names like Colleen. And Adele. So they gussied themselves up with fancy monikers. Like Liliana. And Lucia. Disguised from their ordinariness, these vultures were fit to rule. So they did.
Like four-time president Liliana. No previous Art Center leadership experience. Zero. Suddenly in charge. Uh-huh. The Art Center lost 10% of its net worth every year she ran the joint. Nobody else said boo. They were too busy feeding. Or too afraid to speak up.
And princess Lucia. Her folks started the place. Six months before the old building burned to the ground. Then her old man bought the entire block on the cheap. Look it up. She was there for the rule change. After daddy died. To stifle voting. Lucia was on the board each and every year during Liliana’s reign. Stuffing herself.
The newest vulture is Lindsay. Educated at Women Incorporated. Right. Former chair of Women Presidents’ Organization. Of course. Now the executive director at Mendocino Art Center. Under Liliana and Lucia. Powerful women. All gorging themselves on public money.
How many members are there? That all depends on who’s asking. For donors it’s over a thousand. All folks with resources. But no votes. For the IRS it’s only ten. Most of them vultures. All with votes. According to who? The vultures.
You might recall a letter from Liliana last year in the local Chamber of Commerce newsletter (i.e., The Mendocino Beacon). Things at the Art Center were going along just swimmingly. All it needed was a few more — burp — donors. She got ‘em too. About a hundred grand worth. Without mentioning the new six-figure mortgage. A month ago, Liliana fled the scene. Lucia’s out of state now. Leaving Lindsay with a spent carcass.
Vultures like Lindsay are a dime a dozen. The last to arrive and the last to leave. Ones like Lucia are special. Always there first. Wherever the money is. Ditto for Liliana. Queen of the vultures. Born to rule.
Once the vultures are gone, the only things left are shitbirds. These second-class scavengers — always male — gobble up vulture crap like it’s pate foie gras. With names like Rick, Dale and John. And very low standards. When the shitbirds leave, you know the party’s over.
Spotting vultures is easy. Listen for the screeches. Zah-kuh! Zah-kuh! Trumpeting their prize. Zah-kuh! Zah-kuh! And the shitbirds? They’re right behind the vultures. They never make a peep. They don’t dare.
Ten years is a pretty good run for anyone. And it’s not over for the vultures. In downtown Mendocino, you can still hear the screeches overhead. Zah-kuh! Zah-kuh!
And the deafening silence of the shitbirds.
KISS THIS, DICK TRACY
by Bruce McEwen
I generally lie to parole officers and law enforcement… It’s just what we — men like me… it’s what we do. — Walter Miller
* * *
Walter K. ‘Kris’ Miller took the witness stand to try and convince his jury not to send him to prison for the rest of his life. He's a two-striker looking at a 100-mile an hour fastball of a third strike. If the jury finds him guilty of the attempted murder of a police officer he'll die in some dismal place like Corcoran or Pelican Bay.
Miller doesn’t think he deserves a cage for the rest of his life although his outlaw life suggests otherwise. His judgment seems faulty, and his taking the stand last week may have been ill-advised. Put it this way. He was not convincing. But leave a man with no hope, no options, and you've got a man who just might take a shot at a cop to avoid death by incarceration.
Miller came across as the brains of the drug-fueled crime sprees he and his partner Christopher Skaggs have been involved in over the years, and while we know Governor Jerry Brown is under federal pressure to clear out the state’s prisons, these two guys were going back there sooner or later anyway.
As recently as November 14th of 2012, Miller and Skaggs had led another high-speed chase that ended in Navarro in the Anderson Valley. The mystery is why they were out of jail to do another one in 2013.
In 2010, CHP Officer Hartlow had noticed some erratic driving by a red BMW about 10:20 that September night. The red Beemer was hurtling southbound on Highway 101 near the exit to Lake Mendocino Drive.
Hartlow pulled in behind the weaving, speeding vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop. The Beemer pulled into the slow lane, with the right-hand signal flashing, having slowed to about 60 mph. Hartlow said he thought the driver was going to get off the freeway and stop on Ukiah's North State Street. But the red car kept going, and when Hartlow hit his siren, the Beemer driver hit the gas, and bombed on up Orr Springs Road, headed west.
The road was wet and the chase went on for more than 20 miles, with objects being thrown from the red Beemer as it swerved all over the road. At one point, Hartlow said, the car spun completely around and he came face to face with the driver, Christopher Skaggs. A man assumed to be Kris Miller, rode slumped down in the passenger seat, and a woman, a certain Miss Cox, was along for the ride in the back seat.
The Beemer whirled onto Flynn Creek Road at Comptche and the chase continued, with lots of near crashes with other vehicles. Sheriff’s deputies met up with Hartlow near Comptche and joined in the chase, along with another CHP vehicle crashed in hot pursuit.
The chase went onto Appalachian Road at Rancho Navarro, speeding out the other end on the old Masonite Road, and on down onto Highway 128 towards the Navarro Store, “flying through several stop signs.” Then it was up Soda Creek Road, just before the store where the driver’s door flew open as Officer Hartlow rammed the Beemer with his reinforced bumper and Skaggs took off running. Hartlow, reinforced by several other cops, tackled Skaggs who, of course, fought his capture until he was fully subdued with the help of his tazer.“I also had a flashlight,” Hartlow said, “an advantage the subject did not enjoy.”
Miss Tracy Cox, Bonnie to the two Clydes, remained seated in the Beemer.
Kris Miller, it was widely assumed, jumped out the passenger-side door and got away.
Three years later this fun-loving trio did it all over again, this time with shots fired.
Kubanis for the defense. He asked about the car chase involving his client Miller, the inevitable Miss Cox, and Mr. Skaggs in 2010.
“Wasn’t he driving a Honda Accord on that occasion?”
“Yes, I believe he was.”
“Do you have any experience with a Ford Thunderbird, vintage 1995?”
“I may have pulled one over.”
“But isn’t that a pretty fast car?”
“I don’t know, I just chase ‘em.”
Except for the shots fired, this year's chase up Highway 253, the one currently under consideration by a jury of Mr. Miller’s peers, was the same as the one in 2010.
Miller’s rap sheet is lengthy, to put it mildly. He has been stealing things for a long time, especially guns. “Grand Theft-Firearms,” pops up so often in association with Miller that Grand Theft-Firearms could be the guy's middle name.
The DA wanted the jury to hear about at least two of the gun thefts, especially one of a sawed-off shotgun Miller used in an armed robbery in Sonoma County, August 23, 2000.
While the jury languished in the cellar of a jury room of the musty old County Courthouse, the lawyers argued which of these transgressions would be allowed in court.
DA Eyster wanted as many as he could get.
Kubanis argued that discussion of Miller's legal history violated his client’s constitutional rights under the Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
As an ex-con-felon on parole, Miller's right to bear arms, his, ahem, Second Amendment privilege, had already been lost, and he was also subject to search and seizure, ergo, no Fourth Amendment, and to achieve that status he’d had to waive his Fifth Amendment rights when he pled to the burglary.
Miller soon told the jury about kicking down a Potter Valley door and taking stuffs as if it were the most logical strategy to get some quick cash.
He'd already confessed to the burglary of the Haga residence in Potter Valley, so the defense must have felt there was nothing to be lost by going over this crime in detail. With his lawyer Al Kubanis asking the leading questions, Miller delivered a calmly detailed narrative of the Potter Valley events. He made it clear he was the go-to guy, the leader, in situations where his two compadres tended to hesitate. That day, our trio of ad hoc rogues — Miller, Skaggs and Miss Cox — was in Potter Valley, running low on gas and money. They were driving around in Skaggs’ father’s 1995 T-Bird and shooting up methamphetamine, not a known path to clear thinking. Skaggs and Miss Cox were wondering out loud what they ought to do about their dwindling resources. Miller said he knew of a “child molester” in the area he wanted to look up and put the squeeze on.
“What do you mean, when you say you wanted to pressure this guy,” Kubanis asked.
“I was going to force him to give us money and drugs,” Miller promptly answered. He didn’t elaborate. His eyes were hooded, as they say, half closed throughout his narrative, and he never showed any emotion whatsoever.
“How did you end up at the Haga residence on Van Arsdale Road?”
“We were driving by and I noticed there were no vehicles in the driveway, and with such a nice gate I thought maybe it would be a good place to try.”
“To try what?”
“A burglary is what I had in mind.”
“So what did you do?”
“I told Chris [Skaggs] to park across the street and wait a minute or two. There was no one around so we got out and went over there to look around.”
“What were you looking for?”
“I wanted to see if anyone was around, if there was any dogs, or anything like that.”
“Were there — any dogs or anyone around?”
“No. So I climbed up on the gate, but the board I was standing on broke and I fell on the other side. I hit pretty hard.” Miller looked expectantly to the jurors as if seeking sympathy for his fall, but saw none.
“Then Chris was there helping me up. We went up on the porch and found a big can of gas. I told Chris that he should go put that in the car, but first I told him to kick the door open so I could go in and have a look around.”
“Did Mr. Skaggs have any trouble kicking the door down?”
“No, not at all.”
“Did he have any trouble getting the big can of gas over the gate?”
“Not at all.”
“What did you do?”
“I went in the house and took the pillow cases off the pillows and started filling them with things. When Chris got back, the pillow cases were piling up, so I told him to start taking them out to the car.”
“How many pillow cases were at the gate?”
“I don’t remember any surplus pillowcases at the gate.”
Skaggs had been a marvel of efficiency, it would seem.
“Did you find any firearms?”
“Chris found the long guns and I found the AP-9 under the bed.”
“Several boxes of bullets, yes. We put the ammo in a red suitcase with the coins, a large jar of coins, and a man’s jewelry box; we put that in there, too.”
Too bad Mr. Haga wasn't in the courtroom. It would have been interesting to watch his reactions to this account of the plundering of his home.
“What was the point of taking the firearms?”
“Uhh… no real reason. They were just there. I’d taken them before, and found that they were always lucrative. Chris put the rifles and shotgun in the car, but the AP-9 — that stayed on my person, or on the floorboard right by my feet. And the lever-action, that stayed right by my leg.”
“Wasn’t that one of the long guns Mr. Skaggs had found?”
“Yes, but it wasn’t that long… it was nice and short. And I kept it right by my knee.”
“Did Detective Porter ask you about burglaries?”
“He did, yes. I told him I didn’t commit burglaries.”
“Was that a true statement?”
“Where was the stolen stuff placed?”
“In the car. When I went back to the car I saw the gas can down the side of the hill below the road; it looked like it had been thrown there. We went up the road a ways and pulled over to shoot up some crank.”
“You had syringes?”
“Yes, we bought them at Rite-Aid.”
“Where did you go then?”
“We went on a long journey, man. Way up in the mountains.”
“Up by Lake Pillsbury?”
“Yes, I think so. Chris was driving and we ended up at a casino.”
“What did you do at the casino?”
“We played the slot machines.”
“With the stolen money from the Haga residence?”
“No, I gambled with my own money.”
Mr. Kubanis smiled at this assurance, perhaps remembering his client had said they committed the burglary because they were broke.
“How much did you have?”
“And how much did you gamble away?”
“All of it.”
“Did Mr. Skaggs and Ms. Cox gamble also?”
“Yes, they sat together at one slot machine, and I sat at another.”
“Did they gamble the Haga’s money?”
“They took no money that I’m aware of.”
The hooded eyes, the calm assurance, the detached drone of Miller’s voice was causing some of the jurors to shift uncomfortably in their seats.
In a way, though, Miller's sociopathic assumptions differ only in their execution from those of Wall Street bankers, not to mention most lawyers. In a country dominated by criminals, the only surprise is that there aren't more guys like Miller.
“What about the stolen property?” Kubanis asked, digging his client in deeper with every question.
“All that property had been arranged in the car; the trunk was completely full and the rest arranged in the back seat.”
“Where did you go after you left the casino?”
“I was under the impression we were going to Santa Rosa. The sheriffs were looking for me for the burglary of Mark Bennett’s house and I wanted to get out of Mendocino County.”
“Did you eventually get to Highway 101?”
“Yes, it was dark and I was getting tired. I’d been up for several days. Then I saw the sheriff behind us. I know Chris well and I didn’t want him to panic and take off — he does that.”
“The sheriff got behind us and turned on the red light. Chris kept saying ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ Tracy told him to pull over, but I said, ‘We can’t stop with all this stuff in the car — we’re both on parole.’ Chris was looking for a place to pull over, and he stops and he’s looking at me, and I’m telling him, ‘When he [the officer] gets to the door, just go. I’m slouched real low in the seat… That was our biggest fear — to get pulled over.”
That’s why they took a car with expired plates? Bullpucky. These guys love this cops and robbers action. It’s better than xBox any day. That’s what they do at the jail: they get up early and swab down the pod, or cellblock, so the COs will give them the remote for the TV and they can watch America’s Dumbest Criminals all day.
“I was fairly well-known by the sheriffs,” Miller said, surprising no one.
“Did you make eye-contact with that officer?”
“Not at all. We were parked by Thrifty Nifty, and Chris was saying, ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ I said when he walks up, just take off, and we did.”
“Where were you going?”
“I mentioned the freeway because Chris was saying, ‘Where do I go? Where do I go?’ But he surprised me and turned on the Boonville Road. At that time the car wasn’t running very well.”
“Did the sheriff’s vehicle narrow the distance between you?”
“Yes, very quickly.”
“Was there some discussion in the car?”
“Yes. At that point I was very concerned.”
“Would you describe the people in the car as calm?”
“Not at all. We were arguing back and forth and the little dog was barking its head off.”
“What did you do?”
“I put the gun out the window thinking it would make the sheriff back off. Tracy said, ‘If you’re going to do that, do it before more cops get here.’ I was trying to figure out how to get away from this guy, but he stayed right with us, so I brought the gun back in and took the safety off. Then I reached out and tried the trigger. But I wasn’t trying to hit the car.”
This was the point of the whole gambit of taking the stand, to convince the jury that a reasonable guy like Kris Miller certainly wouldn’t shoot a cop.
“Any explanation on how that bullet hole got in the Deputy’s radiator?”
“Man, I just don’t know. I’ve been thinking on that over and over, and I just don’t know.” He surmised it was a ricochet.
Miller went on to tell how he took off on foot when they pulled the car over; then he hid out in a trailer house over night. He said he was freezing, but again, there was zero evidence of sympathy in the room.
The trial resumed Monday, the jury got it that afternoon, and two hours later they were back with the verdict — guilty of first-degree attempted murder. And assault with a firearm, first-degree burglary, witness intimidation, being a felon in possession of a firearm and special allegations that he personally used the semi-automatic, AP-9 pistol from which five or six rounds were fired the night of the chase in February of this year.
“It was pretty straight-forward,” juror Raymond Gates told Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal. “85-90% of what we were arguing, he had admitted to most of that. I wanted to believe some of the stuff he said, but he incriminated himself. Sometimes he didn't say enough; sometimes he said too much, and he lied about stuff. I feel sorry for a guy like that, but I didn't put the gun in his hand,” Gates said.
Miller will be sentenced on February 7th. ¥¥