by Bruce McEwen, December 23, 2009
A young woman suggested I write something nice for the holidays.
I said I'd try.
There were so many stab wounds in William Troy Passmore’s upper back they all kind of ran together and were hard to count, but he had at least twenty holes in him, maybe more.
When DA Rayburn Killion asked Passmore to take off his shirt to show the jury his ventilated shoulder blades the jury's faces went white.
The stabber, the alleged stabber that is, and his lawyer considered their shoelaces.
Killion: “How sure are you that the defendant is the man who stabbed you?”
Passmore, having waited for the defendant to meet his eyes, “One hundred percent.” he said.
The defendant, Luke Guttman, held Passmore's gaze before checking his shoelaces again.
Guttman and Passmore, at a residence on Cindy Street not far from Ukiah's Pear Tree Shopping Center, had had a disagreement over a computer.
Mr. Guttman exchanged some whispers with his lawyer, Mr. Bert Schlosser who, for the sixth time, discovered that the prosecution had not given the defense tapes of interviews “concealed” by the policeman who'd recorded them.
Every time Mr. Schlosser cross-examined a witness he found that the cops had taped interviews but not given these tapes to the defense.
Judge Richard Henderson was not happy. When he'd sent the jury home for the weekend, he came down with both feet on prosecutor Killion for withholding the evidence every defense is entitled to. Schlosser had moved again to dismiss the case because so much had been withheld, not that there was much dispute over the basic facts of the event.
The contested computer was torn in two, and Passmore came very close to dying before the knife was finally wrested from his erstwhile friend's furious hands. According to the testimony of one witness, Brittany Finley, Guttman then fled down the street to a waiting vehicle driven by, she said, one Richard Fambrini.
Guttman, it was concluded by the court, will go away to state prison for four-and-a-half years.
I followed Schlosser out of the courthouse. He’s a smoker, and I wanted to bum a cigarette from him. We were waiting for the light at the crosswalk. “Did your wife get sentenced last week in Salt Lake City?” I asked. Mrs. Schlosser was famously busted for transporting a big load of marijuana through the Mormon state of Utah.
“No,” Schlosser said. “It’s been continued to mid-January,”
“Damned Christian of the Mormons not to ruin your Christmas, counselor,” I said.
Schlosser walked on.
I had to buy a pack of smokes.