Grizzly Grotto Trial Had it All -- Even Tyson Beckford
|When the voice of Tyson Beckford penetrates your head and tells you to enter a dangerous animal's zoo cage, things have become interesting|
The bar for amazing legal theater shouldn't have been difficult to clear in a case involving a homeless man with a history of mental illness entering a zoo enclosure. And yet, the Herron trial vaulted into the stratosphere on Tuesday, when the District Attorneys prosecuting the case listened, open-mouthed, as an expert witness for the defense calmly explained that Herron breached the vicious animals' lair because the voice of actor and male model Tyson Beckford penetrated his skull and ordered him to save a damsel in distress at the zoo.
"That was so incredibly strange and we were as surprised as anybody," said Brian Buckelew, an Assistant District Attorney and spokesman for the office. "We weren't privy to the psychiatric reports about how Tyson Beckford told him to go into that grotto until it came out on the stand."
But wait -- it gets better! Did you know that after your lawyer convinces a jury that you're not guilty of unlawfully disturbing a wild and dangerous animal because you've got the voice of Tyson Beckford in your head that you just walk out of the courtroom, scot-free? There's no supervised release, no mandatory mental health counseling (let alone custody) and no reason Tyson Beckford's disembodied voice can't tell you to kick the bailiff in the crotch, too.
Meanwhile, one day before Herron beat the bear-baiting charge, Judge Wallace Douglass ruled that, in evading an electric fence, scaling another barricade, and leaping over a moat Pitfall Harry-style, Herron was not "trespassing." Sound crazy? You bet it does -- and when we placed a call to legal expert Profesor Bob Talbot of USF, he was shocked too. Then he perused the relevant law, and he was really shocked:
While, in the popular mindset, trespassing is akin to "kids, stay off my lawn!" the definition of "criminal trespassing" is far stricter. As Herron's attorney, deputy public defender James Conger, convinced the judge, it requires not just wandering onto someone else's property but following that breach up with occupation. Talbot cited a 1967 case, People vs. Wilkinson, as establishing this precedent -- "It essentially says that the purpose of the statute is to prevent squatting, and applies to continuous possession and permanency." ... "Holy mackerel," Talbot told SF Weekly. "You can go into a bear place, spend the night, and not violate any laws."
|Confused as well...|
"Never in my life have I seen a case like this," said Talbot. "It's a strange case."
And he said that before the whole Tyson Beckford thing.
Photo of Tyson Beckford | Jesse Gross
Photo in header of bear | FirstPeople.us