Friday, March 13, 2009

It's like a week of ESPN mixed with Court TV

I've been MIA on blogging for almost two months. Honestly, it's mostly because a majority of the time, I feel like I have nothing exciting to write about. A lot of times, I feel like there's no chance anything thrilling or extraordinary will ever happen to me. Must be nice to be Beyonce or Oprah. Every day you can wake up knowing that there's a good chance something cool will happen or you will meet someone cool. Anyway, that's just my own fixation I have to deal with.

Now, nothing terribly exciting has happened to me--just odd. This past work week has been book-ended by some weird happenings. Thought I'd document for fun. First, on Monday, as soon as I got to the office--I didn't even have time to turn on my computer or put my lunch in the kitchen--I was instructed to turn back around. On Friday, Mr. former NBA pro/TNT sports analyst Charles Barkley began a three-day jail sentence down at the county jail known as Tent City. We just found out that he was going to be released. So, I sped down to the jail where there were several other media outlets already camped out. Well, alas, it turns out we all missed Barkley. He had left before anyone got there through a private entrance. However, I didn't get to go back to the office yet. I then drove to downtown Phoenix to the Sheriff's Office to ask Sheriff Arpaio what Barkley was like as an inmate. The sheriff here has a reputation for being a publicity hound who loves to put on dog and pony shows. He is definitely a character. He is the one who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" and makes inmates wear pink undergarments and work on chain gangs. In our interview he said Barkley actually signed autographs for inmates and was sure to add that it's Arpaio's signature they usually want. Not sure whether I believe that. Anyway, I never pictured myself sitting in his office asking whether Charles Barkley liked jail food.

In my time here, I've come to believe in a Friday curse. All breaking news tends to happen on Fridays here. I can think of four examples so it must be true. It was at least true today. I mean, Friday the 13th. It was in the cards. At 12:45 p.m. today, we got word that the jury had finally reached a verdict in the Serial Shooter case. Over a 14-month period in '05 and '06, some person or persons was randomly shooting at people around metro Phoenix late at night. Eight people died and 19 were wounded. The victims were transients or people just riding their bikes. Really senseless. Two men were charged and one of them, Dale Hausner, was depicted as the mastermind. The verdict was for his case. This guy was facing an 87-count indictment. So, it was kind of a surprise the jury was ready to go after 11 days of deliberation. So, I had to drop everything and race to the courthouse. I was not the main reporter but something like this, you really need a team out there. My co-worker was on his laptop putting together a news brief as the verdict was being read. He needed to pay attention to details like how Hausner reacted while I had a list of all the charges and tallied what got a guilty or not guilty verdict. Everybody, including Hausner, was sitting in the courtroom for at least 10 minutes until the jury came out. I was about three rows behind him. I could see family members of victims as well as Hausner's own family. Even though I had no personal connection to either side (I hope I never know what it's like to be in any position on the side of victims or defendant), I couldn't help feel a little suspenseful. This man sitting 15 feet away from me was about to find out if he'd be found guilty of killing people. And if he were, he'd have prosecutors asking he be sentenced to death. And then my mind would drift and I'd start thinking about what I would eat for dinner. Then I thought 'well, that seems weird to be thinking about a little thing like that when here's this guy who's going to die in prison if not by lethal injection.' But then I decided not to feel guilty about nonchalantly thinking about my own little stuff. If he's truly guilty, and much of the evidence seems to point that way, he brought it upon himself. There were many people who were jubilant when he was found guilty of 6 of 8 killings. It was an interesting experience being part of that media chaos after when interviewing victims and victims' relatives. But I'm even happier that I was helpful and played a key role. My co-worker was very kind in his gratitude. He said nobody could have covered that verdict reading and get it to the news desk alone. My tallying was crucial so that he could quickly sum up in a succint way for a news item what Hausner was found guilty on. And my quotes from a victim and a victim's sister were used in the national story. It's a good feeling to be helpful.

Can't wait to see what next week brings...

1 comment:

DragonDan said...

So, what did you have for dinner?? :-)