Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bad Choices

Here is an actual true account of a criminal case. This is all from transcripts and case files, so it is all public record; there are no attorney-client confidentiality issues, for anyone who is wondering.

A fellow, we'll call him "Defendant" for purposes of this post, walks into an all-night quickie-mart/gas station at around 2 a.m., picks up two gallons of water, proceeds to the front and places the bottles on the checkout counter, and has a conversation that goes something like this (I do not have the transcripts in front of me, so this is a paraphrase, but is reasonably accurate):

Defendant: "Gimme two gallons of gas, too."

Clerk (looking out the window): "But there's no car out there."

Defendant: "I'm gonna dump out the water and put it in here."

Clerk: "But I can't sell you gas in those containers. You have to buy an approved container. They're over there."

Defendant: "But they're expensive. I won't tell anyone. Just sell me the gas in these bottles."

Other Customer: "No really, you don't want to do that. If you get water in your gas tank, it can ruin your engine."

Defendant: "But I don't need it for my car, I just need it to burn."

So the clerk sold him the gas in the unapproved containers.

About 20 minutes later, the clerk heard sirens and saw fire trucks racing by, and could see smoke rising a short distance away. He called 911 and said he might have some information the police might be interested in. He provided a video of Defendant purchasing the bottles and filling them with gasoline.

Meanwhile, Defendant's ex-girlfriend had awakened and looked out her window to see Defendant pouring fluid from water bottles onto her front porch and into her car, then lighting it with a match. After escaping from her burning apartment, she also called 911 and identified Defendant as the person who had set the fire. He was arrested shortly thereafter and charged with arson.

Did Defendant plead guilty, show remorse and beg for mercy, thereby gaining a more lenient sentence? No, he did not. He insisted on going to trial. His defense at trial? What we call the "SODDI defense." (Pronounced like "soddy", rhymes with "soggy") -- stands for "Some Other Dude Did It."

Needless to say, the jury saw right through it and convicted him, and the judge gave him a nice long sentence. He appealed, and lost there as well. I'm sure this isn't a new insight for most of you, but the bottom line is, most criminals just aren't that bright....


Green said...

Some people are such idiots.

Raine said...

at that point you'd think he'd just own up to it. damn.