Friday, September 18, 2015

• Boy Scout Trailer Theft Sentencing... Or Not

Today was supposed to be the sentencing hearing of James Allen Heflin for his role in the stolen Boy Scout trailer. This original incident happened back in March of 2014 (Link to an article about it).


Southwest Justice Center
Case number SWF1401184 was slated to be heard by Judge Judith Clark. The Deputy District Attorney, Gregory Albright, noticed Bridgette Moore in the seating area for the public, in her Boy Scout regalia, and came up to her. 

First he asked if she'd like to say a few words, a victim impact statement, before the sentencing, though she didn't have to. Then he informed her that the defendant's attorney wouldn't be arriving for another 45 minutes (9:30AM). 

About half an hour later, in the corridor, there was a bit of action that indicated that the plea deal, that defendant James Allen Heflin had agreed to on September 8, 2015, might be in question. As it turns out the defense attorney and the defendant's friends were in discussion about ten feet away. It seemed as if his friends were dumbfounded over the plea deal that was set to give Heflin eight years behind bars. He had previously entered a Not Guilty plea until he withdrew it ten days ago.

After about ten minutes of discussion amongst them, where the defense attorney was clearly losing patience, he just walked away from his client's friends as they were in mid sentence and returned to the courtroom.

Once back inside the courtroom, Albright told Moore that it appears that the defendant has had a falling out with his attorney, and that a Marsden Hearing was scheduled to see if he could get new counsel. It further appears that Heflin wanted to withdraw the plea deal that would've landed him in the pokey well into the 2020s.

There is limited seating for the public inside courtroom 201, and a woman that identified herself as the defendant's girlfriend, leaned over and started to talk to Moore. Trying to explain that it was all just a big mix up. That a family member of his set him up for something he didn't do. That the other person arrested in the case isn't being punished, and so on.

A very awkward moment, though one couldn't help have some compassion for her situation.

When the judge got around to this case, she noticed Moore wearing her Boy Scout shirt and realized this was the [somewhat] celebrated case of the stolen boy scout trailer, and that she herself had been part of scouting for a long time, and knew a considerable amount about this case from outside of court... so she recused herself from it and reassigned the matter to another judge.

After the gavel came down, outside the courtroom, another of Heflin's friends came up to Moore, saying how he used to be in the scouts. You could see that they were worried about their friend, and that he was facing a sentence of 8 years... but this wasn't his first rodeo. 


Click image to enlarge.

I'm not going to blast the defendant here, as if this was an anonymous comment on some Yahoo News item... that's what the professionals are paid the big bucks for. 

Still I'll say this. There are countless old adages, speaking of people that make bad choices and then try and get out of the consequences. Let me post one of Aesop's Fables that I used to read to my kids all the time.

This farmer isn't buying the BS.
The Farmer and the Stork
A farmer placed his nets on his newly sown plough lands, and caught a quantity of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. 

With them he trapped a Stork also. The Stork, having his leg fractured by the net, and was earnestly besought the Farmer to spare his life. 

Pray, save me, Master, he said, and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. 

Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers, they are not the least like those of a Crane. 

The Farmer laughed aloud, and said: "It may be all as you say; I only know this, I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their company."

Moral:
Birds of a feather flock together 
or 
If you choose bad companions no one will believe that you are anything but bad yourself.

WR Moral:
If you and I are on a walk in the woods and a bear starts to chase us, I don't have to be faster than the bear, I only have to be faster than YOU! 

Likewise, it very well may be the case that even worse people aren't getting punished for this crime (as alleged by Heflin's friends). You see, they didn't have to be faster than Johnny Law, they only needed to be faster than HIM!

I was supposed to hear back with the outcome of the Marsden Hearing and whether or not he'd be sentenced or allowed to switch his plea to Not Guilty. As of 5:00pm no updates had been received.

So the saga continues for at least another week.

UPDATE

I received word that defendant Heflin was denied new counsel but was given a new court date of Friday November 20th. The minutes, which I posted below, state that it's a sentencing and not a trial. So we'll see at the time if they allow him to withdraw his guilty plea and if that changes things.


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