Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 11 The Power of Will
Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order.
The Power of Will
During the first two weeks after we arrived in Paducah, KY local and national media carried a series of stories about a new form of heroin laced with Fentanyl that was killing large numbers of heroin users in Chicago and other midwestern cities. Readers and viewers were warned to avoid this dangerous drug and to pass the word along to others.
Two weeks after Crane-Station and I arrived in Paducah, a citizen called 911 and reported that “a woman walking around in his neighbor’s yard and writing stuff down in a notebook had talked to his neighbor and mentioned something about tar heroin and all that stuff.” He described the woman and her car. He also provided the Washington license plate number.
Approximately 30 minutes later, Deputy Eddie McGuire of the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department encountered Crane-Station on Highway 60 driving toward Paducah. As he was about to pass her, he noticed that the Washington license plate number matched the number provided by the caller, so he decided to pull her over to investigate. He fell in behind her and lit her up with his blue lights. She immediately activated her right-turn signal, moved over into the emergency lane, and slowed to a stop. He parked behind her.
The stop occurred approximately 5 miles from the law school in Information Age Park. She had dropped me off at the school two hours earlier to teach my evening class and she was returning to pick me up after driving around exploring the area and looking for a large cage or aviary for Nikko, our Congo African Grey parrot. I planned to start an innocence project at the school and I had inadvertently left a stack of project files on the back seat when she dropped me off. We still had the Washington plates on our car as we had not yet had time to register it in Kentucky. We were looking forward to a quiet dinner in town, but Deputy McGuire had another agenda.
He ordered her out of the car and instructed her to blow into an alco-sensor, which is a portable breath-testing machine (PBT) that officers use to screen probable alcohol impaired drivers. He testified under oath at her Preliminary Hearing a week later that he ruled out alcohol impairment because she registered a zero on the PBT and she showed no signs of alcohol impairment.
He testified under oath at the grand jury three weeks later that she was obviously impaired by alcohol because she stumbled when she got out of the car, she exhibited mental confusion, and shehad a strong odor of alcohol on her breath. He said he had submitted a sample of her blood taken at a local hospital to the Kentucky State Police Crime Laboratory for analysis but had not heard back from the lab. He did not mention the exculpatory PBT result. Several months later, we discovered that an analyst at the lab had tested her blood sample, produced a report stating his conclusion, and faxed it to the prosecutor’s office four days before the grand jury met. The analyst had concluded that there was no alcohol in her blood.
Deputy McGuire testified under oath at the pretrial suppression hearing several months later, when he knew that we had a copy of the analyst’s report, that he had ruled out alcohol impairment at the scene shortly after he pulled her over because he detected no odor of alcohol on her person, she showed no signs of alcohol impairment, and she registered a zero on the PBT. We did not know about his grand jury testimony at that time.
After she passed the PBT, Deputy McGuire radioed Dispatch and asked them to send a female officer to the scene to search Crane-Station for drugs. Officer Gretchen Dawes of the Paducah Police Department thoroughly searched Crane-Station by the side of the road in full view of oncoming traffic making her lift her T-shirt and bra to see if she had concealed any drugs in her bra or under her breasts. She also made her open her jeans to visually examine her crotch. She searched the pockets of her jeans, her running shoes, and patted down every square inch of her body, but she did not find any drugs, contraband, or drug paraphernalia. Prior to this search, Crane-Station had emptied her front pockets and turned them inside out.
Deputy McGuire, Officer Dawes, and Deputy Jason Walters, a sheriff’s deputy dispatched to back-up the arrest, spent 1.25 hours searching the car, including the trunk, but they did not find any drugs, contraband, or drug paraphernalia. They removed my innocence project papers from the back seat, placed them on top of the trunk, and read them using their flashlights and the headlights from Deputy McGuire’s patrol vehicle. All of these events were recorded by the in-dash video.
Despite an absence of any evidence that she had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a crime, Deputy McGuire handcuffed her with her hands behind her back and placed her in the back seat of his patrol vehicle. He took her to a nearby hospital for a blood draw.
As he assisted her to get out of the back seat after they arrived at the hospital, she told him that her watch had fallen off her wrist during the ride and slipped through the crack behind the seat. She asked him to please return it. He pulled the seat back and reached beneath it recovering her watch, which he returned to her. He also produced a crumb-like object and told her that, “It sure looks like heroin to me.”
Crane-Station denied that the crumb-like object was hers or that she had ever seen it before. She told him that she did not know what it was and urged him to field and lab test it to find out, if he truly believed that it was a controlled substance.
He took her to jail and booked her for DUI, possession of a controlled substance, and tampering with evidence (i.e., attempting to conceal the controlled substance). He testified under oath at the Preliminary Hearing a week later that he field-tested the crumb-like object after he booked her into the jail and it tested negative for heroin. He said he did not field test it for cocaine because, “We knew all along it was gonna be crack cocaine.”
He was certainly right about that. A Kentucky State Crime Laboratory analysis of the suspected controlled substance that he submitted concluded that it contained crack cocaine and weighed 0.1 grams.
A Kentucky State Crime Lab analysis of her blood sample detected no drugs.
Nevertheless, Crane-Station was convicted by a jury of DUI, possession of a controlled substance (i.e., crack cocaine), and tampering with evidence.
McCracken County Circuit Court Judge Craig Clymer sentenced her to 4 years in prison on the possession charge and 4 years on the tampering charge. He ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, or end to end, for a total sentence of 8 years. He sentenced her to 30 days for the DUI, but he had to run it concurrent or together with the 8-year prison sentence, because that is mandated by statute.
That is the only legal rule that he followed in her case, which is now on appeal.
There is no question that prosecutorial decisions about how to handle Crane-Station’s case were affected by my position at the law school and well-advertised intent to clean up corruption. I believe prosecutors used her case to severely restrict what I had hoped to accomplish in reforming Kentucky’s incredibly vile and corrupt criminal justice system. It also might have had something to do with the civil rights violation case we filed in federal court against the three police officers. For example, her lawyer told us that Tim Kaltenbach, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, told him that because of our lawsuit his office was going to convict her, regardless if she were innocent.
Crane-Station was arrested in late June, 2006 and sentenced in March, 2008, just before I was fired for the second time at the law school. Her appellate lawyer told us that she believes Crane-Station’s case and shockingly severe sentence were motivated by a desire to protect a legal system sick with corruption and silence me.
Tim Kaltenbach is now a McCracken County Circuit Court Judge.
Crane-Station and I are not so easily defeated. Frog Gravy and this book are proof that despite the entrenched corruption our willpower cannot be defeated and our voices cannot be silenced.
Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.
Namaste: If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.
Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.