You may recall that our house was broken into last March. You may also recall that last September we thought our ordeal was over once we finally retrieved our iPod, digital camera and Macbook. Although we got our things back, the case remained open while the defendant, Mr. B—–, filed appeal after appeal and, for good measure, fired his public defender. Ben went back to court again the week of Thanksgiving but the docket was so full that the hearing was postponed once more. It was rescheduled for December, then rescheduled again for this week.
Today, nearly a year after the break-in, Mr. B—– defied the conventional wisdom which said, given his priors and the evidence against him in another break-in, he should plead guilty in exchange for four years jail time. Instead, Mr. B—– fired his public defender (again) and threatened to take it to trial, which would require that one of the Vores be present all day tomorrow and possibly into Friday. For his intransigence, the Deer Park police department thinks Mr. B—– could now serve up to sixteen years. But you probably wouldn’t expect common sense from someone who picked the snowiest day of 2008 (schools were closed) to kick in our front door in the middle of the day on a fairly busy street.
Ben relayed this to his colleague Mark Hoobler this afternoon, given the possibility he might have to miss work. It’s not really good for either of us, Ben said, since Erin’s in the middle of a crazy week too.
To which Mark replied, “There’s always one other member of the Vore household who could be present.”
Which got us thinking…
[SCENE: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. JUDGE DANIEL PHELAN presides over a subdued courtroom. Some family and friends are in attendance, scattered about the room. The defendant, MR. B—–, is led into the room in handcuffs. The bailiff escorting him in looks eerily like Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon from “Night Court.”]
[JUDGE PHELAN pounds his gavel. Everyone snaps to.]
JUDGE PHELAN: I am so sick and tired of this case being dragged out forever. I mean, when will justice be served? Let’s wrap this thing up today because, frankly, I don’t like your face, Mr. B—–.
MR. B—–: Whether you like my face or not, your honor, I am innocent until proven guilty.
JUDGE PHELAN: Baloney. Let’s call the first witness.
[The prosecutor, BOB LOBLAW, rises from his desk.]
BOB LOBLAW: Your honor. I would like to call two witnesses. These poor individuals have already endured so much and can testify to the crime that Mr. B—– has committed against them. I would like to call Ben and Erin Vore to the stand.
[Everyone in the courtroom turns to watch the VORES walk in. The door remains closed. A murmur ripples through the courtroom.]
BOB LOBLAW [somewhat louder]: I said, “I would now like to call Ben and Erin Vore to the stand.”
[The door does not open. The courtroom is abuzz. Hushed whispers of “Maybe they’re not coming!” and “Mr. B—– could get off scot-free!”]
BOB LOBLAW: Poop. I really am a terrible lawyer.
MR. B—–: Your honor, it appears as though there are no victims in this so-called crime. I think I should walk.
JUDGE PHELAN: Zip it. Mr. Loblaw, have you no witnesses to testify?
[BOB LOBLAW looks flustered until a man suddenly bursts through the doors. The courtroom releases a collective gasp. The man races down the aisle. He leans toward BOB LOBLAW and whispers something in his ear. BOB LOBLAW’s face lights up.]
BOB LOBLAW: Ahem. Your honor, we do have a witness here. But I’ve been informed he’ll need a little help getting to the stand.
JUDGE PHELAN: Exactly what kind of help are we talking about here, Mr. Loblaw?
BOB LOBLAW: Either a small crane or the strength of four men. Whatever’s more convenient.
JUDGE PHELAN: Seeing as there doesn’t appear to be a crane in this courtroom, Mr. Loblaw, let’s go with the four men. Bailiff?
BAILIFF WHO LOOKS LIKE BULL: I’ve been told I have the strength of four men, sir.
[BOB LOBLAW looks skeptical but just shrugs. BAILIFF WHO LOOKS LIKE BULL exits the courtroom. Expectant silence. MR. B—– appears unsettled, looking from face to face. JUDGE PHELAN looks nonplussed. A menacing, minor-key synthesizer note rises in pitch.]
[Doors open with a flourish as BAILIFF WHO LOOKS LIKE BULL reenters the courtroom holding something gigantically furry in his hands. He is clearly laboring as he walks down the aisle.]
ANONYMOUS SPECTATOR #1: Dear Lord, what is he carrying?
ANONYMOUS SPECTATOR #2: It appears to be alive!
ANONYMOUS SPECTATOR #1: What an abominable creature! I can’t believe how, how … HUGE it is.
ANONYMOUS SPECTATOR #2: It’s the famed Leviathan from the Book of Job!
[BAILIFF WHO LOOKS LIKE BULL places large furry creature on the witness stand before collapsing to floor. He is struggling to breathe and could be dying.]
JUDGE PHELAN: Back-up bailiff! Help this man! And Mr. Loblaw — what in God’s name is that thing on the witness stand?
BOB LOBLAW: Your honor — I call to the witness stand … Mister Scooter Thomas.
[Gasps and frantic whispering. MR. B—–‘s eyes grow very large. JUDGE PHELAN pounds his gavel, shouting “Order! ORDER!” SCOOTER THOMAS flattens his ears as the hair on his plentiful backside stands on end.]
JUDGE PHELAN: Mr. Loblaw, what is the meaning of this?
BOB LOBLAW: Your honor, neither of the Vores could be here today. However, their cat, Scooter Thomas, can testify to the hideousness of this crime, seeing as he was the only one at home when it occurred.
MR. B——: Your honor, it’s a cat!
JUDGE PHELAN: Mr. Loblaw, you’d better not be yanking my chain. I’m going to allow this, but I warn you — you’re on very thin ice here.
BOB LOBLAW: Thank you, your honor. I won’t abuse your trust. [turning to Scooter Thomas] Now, Mr. Thomas — can I call you Mr. Thomas?
SCOOTER THOMAS: You can call me Scooter Thomas, seeing as that’s my name.
[More gasps. “It talks!” more than one spectator proclaims from the audience. “And it appears to have a British accent!”]
BOB LOBLAW: Yes, forgive me. Mr. Scooter Thomas, can you tell us what transpired at the Vore household on March –, 2008?
SCOOTER THOMAS: Well, it’s a bit hazy. First the doorbell went off, which always scares the bejeezus out of me. I made a run for the landing on the second floor so I could keep an eye on things. That’s when some brute began kicking in the front door. At that point I hightailed it outta there and took cover underneath the bed. I’m not proud of it. I’ll come right out and say it: I wussed out big time.
BOB LOBLAW: No need for the self-flagellation, Mr. Tho– er, Mr. Scooter Thomas. Please continue.
SCOOTER THOMAS: Well, I stayed under the bed and didn’t come out, even when the bedroom was ransacked and there were drawers and clothes all over the place. I thought about rounding up some of my favorite toys, but I wasn’t going to risk my life like that. So I stayed put.
BOB LOBLAW: Did you, Mr. Scooter Thomas, get a look at the person who broke into your owner’s home?
SCOOTER THOMAS: Yes.
BOB LOBLAW: Is that person in the courtroom today?
SCOOTER THOMAS: Yes.
BOB LOBLAW [pausing for dramatic effect]: Could you please point to said individual, Mr. Scooter Thomas.
[Complete and utter stillness. The air is charged with expectation. SCOOTER THOMAS begins to lift his right paw. The spectators lean forward in their seats. His paw is almost fully extended when, abruptly, he begins licking it and trying to work something out from between his foot pads.]
JUDGE PHELAN: MIS-ter Loblaw —
BOB LOBLAW: Your honor, I’m so sorry —
MR. B—–: Your honor, this is preposterous!
JUDGE PHELAN: Mr. Loblaw! Control your witness or I’ll have you held in contempt of court!
BOB LOBLAW: Yes, sir, your honor, I’m sorry. Please, allow me a moment–
[BOB LOBLAW approaches the witness stand. He whispers in SCOOTER THOMAS’S ear. SCOOTER THOMAS nods, then unleashes a monster yawn and licks his lips. BOB LOBLAW looks at him skeptically until SCOOTER THOMAS nods again. BOB LOBLAW returns to his desk.]
BOB LOBLAW: All right, sorry. Let’s try that again. Mr. Scooter Thomas, would you please focus and point to the individual who broke into your house?
[Silence and anticipation yet again. More leaning forward. A trickle of sweat falls along Mr. B—–‘s brow. SCOOTER THOMAS raises his paw, slowly, slowly, until…]
SCOOTER THOMAS: That man. [He points to MR. B—–.] He’s the one who broke into our house.
[A woman screams. Camera flashes go off. MR. B—– shouts, “Noooo!” JUDGE PHELAN whacks his gavel no less than sixteen times, bellowing, “Order! ORDER IN THE COURT!” SCOOTER THOMAS again flattens his ears and crouches down fearfully.]
JUDGE PHELAN: Mr. B—–, justice has been served! I sentence you to sixteen years for being such a dillweed throughout this whole process, not to mention making a mockery of my courtroom. Bailiff who looks like Bull, take him away!
[BAILIFF WHO LOOKS LIKE BULL is still prostrate on the floor.]
JUDGE PHELAN: Great, is the bailiff dead?
BOB LOBLAW: No, sir. But he appears incapacitated.
JUDGE PHELAN: And why is that?
BOB LOBLAW: Scooter Thomas is sitting on his chest.
BAILIFF WHO LOOKS LIKE BULL [groaning]: I can barely breathe! Get this monster off me!
JUDGE PHELAN: Court adjourned!
UPDATE: The trial has been postponed until late March. No word on whether Court TV will be covering it live.