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The Sympathetic Witness — Assault in Palolo

“Oh my God! Are you okay?”  The prosecutor asked, with entirely more emotion than should be allowed. It’s just a punch. I could take it, I was more worried about falling down…

“Falling down, why?” As if everyone in the jury didn’t see the man walk in on his cane. Well, It’s my leg.  Ever since the accident,  I have to use this cane and my balance isn’t very good.

“Your balance isn’t very good.” The prosecutor was engaging in the time-honored technique of “repeating the last thing the witness said for maximum effect”.  I do this now ironically.   “So after –”

I also have a brain tumor.

Now the witness wanted to engage in the time-honored technique of volunteering information.  This robbery had nothing to do with a brain tumor.  It was about three Samoan men trying to steal beer at a liquor store at 9:00 in the morning.  That’s all.  And the neighbor grabs one by the shoulder, he got hit.

See, the liquor store was right next to Palolo Housing.  So it’s not the first time they got hit like this.  I talked to a cop later who told me he can see it happen, he knows where people line up to stand to grab a six-pack and dig out. Just take off.

Well during this case the man testifying grabbed a Samoan man (not carrying beer by his shoulder) and the Samoan turned around and punched him in the face, the man didn’t fall down. And they ran away.

And while we could have gone with no identification: come on, cross-racial identification after a 15-second conflict, a highly suggestive ID, and no other connection to the scene.  Not to mention you throw a mango any direction in Palolo and you hit a Samoan (and then run as fast as you possibly can).

My client wanted to be honest. He wanted to testify.  He wanted to tell the jury that this guy grabbed him so he pulled away.  When the man wouldn’t let go, he slapped the man once. This made the cane-wielding man the man let go, but not fall down.  My client then ran, he knows what happens when a Samoan man from the housing slaps a haole.   Plus, he had to find somewhere else to buy milk and eggs, so his girlfriend’s mom could make pancakes for the family.

It never would have been an issue except they wanted pancakes.

Well, the jury went out, and they were still deliberating, when I saw something not one of them ever got to see:

The next morning, out in front of the metal detectors/security station on the first floor is the same man who had a cane the day before.  No cane, yelling, carrying on, screaming about money the prosecutors owe him, and jumping around in front of the security officers.  Security officers who kept telling him to leave and not harass them.

He had a bum leg and a brain tumor in front of the jury.  Could hardly walk to the witness stand.  Outside the courtroom, he was fit as a fiddle.

And the jury never got to see this behavior, all they were allowed to see was the tragic story presented on the witness stand.

But they saw right through it, and my defendant walked out the front door.  I sometimes wonder if he ever got his short stack.