Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

  • There looks like there were five people arrested in Wise County yesterday, with names that just happen to be Vietnamese sounding, for the rare charge of "Money Laundering  >=$150K<$300K." 
  • A faithful reader contacted me about my question about the once Rock Island Line railroad spur between Bridgeport in Jacksboro. He says that up until circa 1970 that the railroad tracks still existed between Runaway Bay and Fort Richardson in Jacksboro and was actually active for tourists. There would even be a fake railroad robbery on the return trip. I have no memory of that. 
  • Amber Guyger trial thoughts (stay with me here):
    • It's broadcast live online by every DFW affiliate. It's pretty fascinating -- especially for proceedings outside the presence of the jury. (Here's a good link this morning.)
    • I've said it from the start: I don't think she is guilty of  any Texas crime. But this case would stump the majority of very bright students in a criminal law course in law school. It's complicated. 
    • The State charged her with murder which is the intentional killing of another and there's no question she did that. Heck, the State, if they were going to roll the dice on this case, had to charge her with murder.  But the whole trial will be about the defense of whether she was justified, based upon the facts as she believed them, in using deadly self-defense. 
    • That's why I think she's not guilty. Just like there is no question that she intended to shoot and kill, there's also no question she actually believed she was in her apartment and was faced with an intruder. Does anyone in their right mind think she realized she was in the wrong apartment and shot the guy anyway? This case should be cut and dry. 
    • People throw around the crimes of Manslaughter (reckless killing) or Criminally Negligent Homicide but those theories don't fit this case because she intended to kill the guy. You see manslaughter cases for a guy running 80 mph through a school zone at 3:30 in the afternoon and strike and kill a child, or pointing a gun at a buddy and firing thinking it was unloaded when he was aware it could have been. In those cases there was no intent to kill but the conduct is so egregious that it violates the law. Amber Guyger intended to kill. This wasn't a reckless or negligent killing. This isn't a Manslaughter case.
    • But then the State confused everyone in an opening statement: "Amber Guyger made a series of unreasonable errors and unreasonable decisions and unreasonable choices."* Huh? That would make sense if this was a manslaughter/criminally negligent case where reasonableness of conduct is the issue. In case you haven't been paying attention, this is a murder case. 
    • And then the State put on evidence that Amber perhaps was distracted before the shooting by talking to her one-time paramour. And they showed the doormat in opening statement which obviously wasn't hers. That shouldn't matter to the State. They are completely on the wrong track.  They have not charged her, nor could they, with making huge mistakes (not realizing the may indicators she was on the wrong floor) which caused her to open a door to an apartment that was not hers. 
    • And here is the heart of the matter: It is not a crime to make mistakes, even unreasonable ones, which leads you to be placed in a position where you honestly believe that self-defense was necessary and then intentionally kill someone acting on that mistaken belief. It's horrible. It's tragic. But it's an accident under the law. It's not a crime. 
    • The question is not, "Was it reasonable she made that mistake about the apartment?" The question is,  "Did she actually make that mistake about the apartment?" If she did, or even if the jury has a reasonable doubt about whether she did, she's not guilty if she feared for her life. 
    • Being distracted, which the State for some reason is trying to stress, plays right into the hands of the defense. The defense wants the State to concede that Amber was distracted before she opened the door.  They want the jury to believe she was zoned out. Why? Because that all helps the defense position that she thought she was in her apartment and was confronted with an intruder.  (And they don't need a lot of help to establish that.)
    • There's no way a Dallas jury will understand any of this. I'm afraid they'll be confronted with an incredibly complicated "jury charge" (the instructions they get at the end of the trial regarding all applicable law which will include "mistake of fact"), jury arguments that have nothing to do with the actual law -- we already see this happening, and then just decide, "Is this case so bad that we need to convict her of something?"
    • And if their minds weren't blown enough, I bet this judge (who is a bit of a wild card) will improperly give the jury the option to convict her for Manslaughter of Criminally Negligent Homicide.  If that's the case, and they get confronted with the law regarding those offenses, this case will be a cluster.
    • * By the way, that's an improper opening statement. It's argument. 
  • Well, since Trump withholding $400 million from the Ukraine before he called them about Biden is nothing to worry about, I'm sure they'll release an (undoctored) transcript of the call as well as the Whistleblower complaint. 
    (Right after he releases his tax returns)
  • The Democrats will meet today in the afternoon to discuss impeachment. This might finally happen. He'll never be convicted in the Senate, but at least it'll by a symbolic gesture. And symbolic gestures have meaning. 
  • I'm not sure what I think about Cocky Troy.
  • Man, this young lady sure did trigger those in the far right wing yesterday who for some reason get really bent out of shape about taking any measures to treat the planet with respect. 
  • Random college football thought: If you get a chance, go back and find out in detail what happened in the UCLA/Washington State game late Saturday night. UCLA, which is not a good team, trailed 49-17 with 6:52 left in the third quarter. They won 67-63. There was no overtime.  It ended at 1:30 a.m. CST and has not received the coverage it deserves. It's even crazier than you would think. 
  • There are 179 people in the Wise County Jail. That's slightly below average.