The Trial

6 weeks, 45 pages of notes,  56 pages of instructions, 33 witnesses, 5 defendants, 12 lawyers……………..

In the words of the Surrenos mediator, Salazar,” Sometimes we make things harder than they is”.

In Victorville Federal Penitentiary a white inmate, Big Dave Scoppazzi, was stabbed five times with a prison made “shank” (knife) and died five days later from his wounds.  The surveillance cameras show 3 Surrenos gang members entering his cell  before the stabbing and 72 seconds later a fight in progress spills out on to the 2nd floor tier. A melee ensues with other inmates rushing to join in.  The jury was tasked with determining if a conspiracy to murder existed and which of the 5 defendants were involved in that conspiracy.

In the course of the trial I learned many things that I hope I never need to know:   all the different places to hide a “shank” including places on or in your body, how to make “Pruno” (prison made alcohol),  , a “kite” is note to read not a thing to fly, it is possible to run a  lucrative tatoo business out of your cell,  a meth rig is good for about 50 uses, and one unarmed guard is responsible for 120 prisoners.

After 4 days of deliberation the jury found 3 of the defendants guilty of all counts, including conspiracy and 1st degree murder and 2 of the defendants guilty on lesser counts of intent to do bodily harm.  One of the accused helped our decision with his testimony, ” You don’t go for your shank unless you are going to use it,  you don’t pull it out to see how long it is”.

I left that courthouse with a greater understanding of our prisons , who really runs them, and that I never want to experience one first hand. 

P.S. Looking at real autopsy photos is not like watching CSI.

The Bee is Back!!

You are all correct, court is over,  Perry and Doug’s wedding weekend goes down in history as the best wedding reception of all time, and our camping trip up the coast and across the Sierras is winding down .  I have had spotty internet connections here and there but I have been  too busy living  life  to blog.  We will pull into Twentynine Palms tomorrow and I promise to share more!!!