The jury trial for Dustin Golyer of Ukiah ended in convictions for Count One felony vandalism and Count Two a misdemeanor resisting arrest. The jury wasn’t out very long, the verdict arriving the same day the trial began, Tuesday, as all of Monday, was taken up in jury selection.
Mr. Golyer’s cunning defense, as presented by Patrick Kingsley of the Office of the Public Defender, was that ants got in his pants. That’s right, ants. It was Golyer’s argument against the two arresting officers that he was so unpleasant and destructive because the ants in his pants had made him terribly irritable. Part of Mr. Kingsley’s defense strategy was to cast an aspersion on one of the officers, Sergeant Peter Hoyle of the Ukiah Police Department; during the pre-trial motions Kingsley asked Judge Cindee Mayfield if he could dust off an old urban legend concerning Sgt. Hoyle, and use it to impeach Hoyle’s testimony. What Kingsley had in mind was the time Officer Hoyle was accused of stealing three newspapers, copies of the Ukiah Daily Journal from a street sales box, back in 1995 when he first came to the area to work under cover, and the local paper had the (perhaps naïve) audacity to print his picture.
To put an undercover cop’s picture in the paper is a good way to spoil his game, ruin his chances of busting anybody, if not get him killed outright by one of the many free range thugs roaming bucolic Mendocino County, and so Hoyle’s desire to get the picture out of circulation would be understandable, almost anywhere, except of course in Mendocino County where dope dealers were considered the Freedom Fighters, and thugs the Heroes Of Our Time. Hoyle was made to pay and apologize, and he was temporarily demoted and suspended by Ukiah Police Chief, the late Fred Keplinger. Reporter Jane Freeman got off scot-free for her cover-blowing photographic derring-do, but the Daily Journal has long-since 1995 been swept so far into the staid, stifling and stultified mainstream that this sort of thing could never happen again.
Judge Mayfield told Mr. Kingsley he could bring it up, if he wished, over Deputy DA Tom Geddes’s objections. But as it happened, Kingsley never mentioned it once he had the formidable Hoyle on the stand.
Sgt. Hoyle’s partner in the Golyer matter, Officer Jason Chapman, was called first. Chapman told the jury that he and Hoyle made up a new unit, the Special Enforcement Team, which had been formed to deal with the homeless and (impecunious) transients (note: “transient” has come to not only imply but to presume indigence, a euphemism for what used to be called “hoboes” or “bums,” whereas transients with money for lodging and meals are termed “tourists” hence the official term “transient occupancy tax,” or TOT, for the scented bed and breakfast transients). The Special Enforcement Team has been tasked with making welfare checks on homeless camps, and keeping such areas cleaned up, as they tend to collect lots of filthy rags, food and beverage containers, trash in general, human waste, and discarded hypodermic needles. (The hoboes of yesteryear kept out of sight and cleaned up after themselves.)
Keeping pollutants out of the creeks and river is one of the Special Enforcement Team’s concerns. On May 16th the team had gone to 1601 Airport Road because the Business Park Superintendent had called about a camp near the creek behind the old Mendocino Brewing Company. The special enforcers were also looking for an electric scooter stolen from WalMart, which they found at this location “in pieces.”
There were two camps behind the brewery. The one on the near side of the creek belonged to Patrisha Moody and Paul Golyer (a couple whose tumultuous romance the AVA has been (perhaps inadvertently) serializing for months, if not years now. The camp on the other side was Dustin Golyer’s, who was discovered relaxing in a hammock swung between two trees. The officers advised the campers that they had to break camp, as it was on private property, and too close to the creek. The team then left. But the special enforcers soon returned, having been advised by dispatch that Dustin Golyer had an outstanding warrant.
All Officer Chapman wanted, he said, was for Dustin Golyer to sign a citation, a promise to appear in court, but Golyer refused. He sneered at the pen offered by Hoyle and said, “How do I know where it’s been?” Then Golyer, boasting that he could outrun the officers, tried to walk — a playful little fake-and-dodge dance-step, as it was later described — past the two officers, and Chapman grabbed Golyer by the arm and detained him. He was again asked to sign the citation, again refused, and was arrested. The handcuffs were put on and Golyer was lifted into the passenger seat of the pickup truck, a Toyota Tundra the two plainclothes officers use as a patrol vehicle.
That’s when the trouble started. Golyer put his foot on the dash and when told to take it down refused. This meant a patrol car with a prisoner cage in the back would have to be called. Golyer was removed from the Chapman-Hoyle patrol vehicle and sat him on the ground to wait for the cage car.
Chapman soon noticed ants crawling on Golyer’s pant legs so he helped Golyer up and brushed the ants off. Then he took Golyer to the back of the pickup and sat him on the bumper. It was while he was in this position that Golyer started rubbing the handcuffs against the tailgate until he had gouged marks into the paint, and Chapman pulled him away.
When Officer Brazil arrived with a patrol car, and as Golyer was being put in it, Golyer tried to spit on Chapman, and when the door was closed Golyer started kicking the partition that separates violent prisoners from the driver. So they took Golyer out and wrapped his legs in a Velcro restraint and put him back in.
On cross-examination, Mr. Kingsley for the Golyer defense, asked more particularly about the ants. What kind were they? Chapman didn’t know. How many were there? Chapman hadn’t counted them. What if Golyer was allergic to ants? Chapman hadn’t asked. Did Chapman check inside Golyer’s pants for any more ants? No, he hadn’t. Was Golyer taken to the hospital for ant bites? No, he wasn’t. What if it had been a bee-sting and Golyer had gone into anaphylactic shock? Chapman said it wasn’t a bee and Golyer never said anything about being bitten or having any ants in his pants.
Sgt. Hoyle was called and told the story from his perspective, how the Special Enforcement Team was formed to look after the homeless and transients, to make things safer and see to any problems they were having.
Welcome warms the heart like brandy, goes the proverb, but this moving testimonial from the legendary officer brought tears to my eyes like I’d just chopped up a big bag of yellow Walla-Walla onions. The bailiff brought me a Kleenex, as Hoyle went on to tell the jury how “The county has no money, that is to say, no services for these people, so we have to do whatever we can.” Hoyle spoke softly, and calmly made eye contact with each juror.
The Editor tells me that technically, “the county has no money,” isn’t true. He says there’s plenty of money but it goes to the non-uniformed “helpers” who help from a comfortable distance in their nice offices, not to actual services, so in that sense, Hoyle’s right. We might also point out the nearly saintly restraint exercised by the arresting officers in dealing with this guy.
“What was Mr. Golyer’s demeanor like?”
“He was kind of aloof, not really acknowledging me or what I was saying.”
“Did his demeanor improve?”
“No, he became argumentative and used foul language.”
“Once handcuffed was Mr. Golyer still confrontational?”
“Yes, and when he was in the truck he placed his foot on the dashboard and it occurred to me that he was going to kick out the windshield.”
“Did you see any ants on his pants?”
“I saw a couple.”
“More than three or four?”
“No, I wouldn’t have seen any if Chapman hadn’t been brushing him off.”
“Did you observe anything to cause concern when he was sitting on the bumper?”
“I did. He leaned forward so his forehead was almost touching his knees and started moving his hands up and down behind him. When we pulled him away we saw the fresh scratches on the tailgate.”
“You say the scratches were fresh?”
“They were not there before Mr. Golyer was placed there, and they were too deep to buff out, because they’d gone through the paint and into the metal.”
On cross-examination Mr. Kingsley wanted to know more about the Special Enforcement Team. “Do you wear plain clothes when on duty?”
“And you drive an unmarked vehicle, the Toyota Tundra?”
“When you arrived you found the motorized scooter that was missing form WalMart?”
“In pieces, yes.”
“And Mr. Golyer was in a hammock?”
“Was he sleeping?”
“I don’t know.” Defense lawyers may treat him with hostility and suspicion but Hoyle never reacts to it, he focuses his attention on the jury and keeps his cool while the hot-headed young lawyers usually blow it by appearing obnoxious and rude to Hoyle, who always answers them politely and respectfully.
“Did Golyer say he’d already been cited for the warrant?”
“I don’t recall that. He refused to take the pen I offered, said he didn’t know where it had been, and wouldn’t accept it.”
“And he refused to take his foot down from the dash?”
“Fair to say he was being difficult to deal with?”
“Yes, that’s fair.”
“And is that a crime?”
“Did you inspect him for ants?”
“I did not.”
“Have you had any experience with ants?”
“Once I was splitting wood and found I’d been standing on an ant colony.”
“They crawled on me and started biting – right away, and I went into a frenzy to get out of my pants and get them off.”
“Did either you or Officer Chapman remove Mr. Golyer’s pants to check for ants?”
“Was he taken to the hospital?”
“If he was, I wasn’t aware of it.”
“How long was it before he was taken to the jail?”
“Fifteen minutes or so.”
“And all this time he could have had insects biting him?”
“If he did he kept it well hidden.”
“When Mr. Golyer was sitting on the bumper were his actions typical of someone trying to get ants off?”
“Not at all – it wasn’t the least frenzied, like someone would be if they had ants biting them. No, he was more controlled, so I don’t believe he was trying to get ants off.”
“In your opinion his actions would not be consistent with someone trying to get ants off?”
“People trying to get ants off do it in a frenzied manner, and he was moving methodically.”
Mr. Kingsley produced a copy of the transcript from the preliminary hearing and showed it to Sgt. Hoyle. Then he asked if it could be possible that Golyer was trying to get ants off. After reading the indicated part Hoyle said, “As I said then, and as I’m saying now, it’s a possibility.”
The jury didn’t seem to think Golyer had much of a case. They quickly found him guilty of felony vandalism for intentionally scratching the truck with the handcuffs, and for resisting arrest with his “being difficult” antics.