Elwood. A fair system is not always just

Tyler Murphy

If you read my thumbs in Friday’s paper I did something I don’t, I decided to disapprove of a jury’s decision. Not in the aspect of guilty or innocent but the fact that they found him guilty of half of the crimes. I thought it was a- most, all or nothing kind of crime.

I sat through the entire case. By the end I’m pretty sure the jury misunderstood what in-concert meant. Probably most of them zoned out during the 60 minute jury charge explaining all the finite details of our legal system-which could numb a snowman’s mind after the first 5.

Ohl was a liar, his testimony from the prior court appearance changed and it was pretty obvious by his shifty demeanor besides. But I didn’t believe Elwood either and so the only credible testimony about the specifics of the rape come from the traumatized victim-which could obviously be askew, but not intentionally so. She said Elwood was a foot behind Ohl watching them during the attempted rape/rape, while holding a gun. Elwood even said he was standing with his back turned to the room, 15 feet away, for 7 to 8 minutes when the rape happened and claimed was completely oblivious to what his partner was exactly doing.

So according to the defense: the suspects were there for 15 or less minutes and the rape took half that time. Elwood said he was naïvely drawn into carrying an assault rifle, that may or may not have been loaded and fully automatic, into a home at 11:30 p.m. He was pulled into this unfortunate set of circumstances after watching his “little brother” break into an apparent empty home. After being deceived by his drugged out “little brother” as to the nature of being at the house Elwood decided to leave the scene but stopped because he heard a woman scream. He then went inside, gun in hand. He then stood by as a confused bystander without inquiring into the actions of his friend for 7 to 8 minutes while a woman screamed bloody murder and was raped.

I didn’t buy it but obviously others did. This by the way is the first time, since his arrest, numerous court appearances and so on, that Elwood ever reported this specific chain of events. He literally change his entire story on the stand and blamed the police for making him give a false statement while simultaneously presenting a story where he is completely innocent and blameless. Deny all, play stupid routine… good thing high school principles aren’t as gullible as jurors. (Or in my case too bad)

If he had said, “Hey, I don’t know what my buddy was doing, handling the woman I guess. She was screaming but that’s what you’d expect in this kind of situation. I was too busy searching the joint for money and other people to worry about it. Besides I was high as a kite and can’t really remember everything anyway,” I might have believed that.

The question is this, if police or anyone else came towards the house would’ve Elwood warned his friend in the other room? Did he know the woman was being raped, was there enough to assume? Did he know enough about what was happening not to ask? If you said yes to any of these questions then he’s in concert. It’s called keeping watch. If he knew that something sexual was going on and would warn his buddy of a threat then voila you have in concert.

He would have warned his friend. DA McBride said it best in court, “At that point sir you made a decision. A decision to look out for you and your buddy over the woman.”

A fair system is not always just but it’s the best there is. I applaud the jury and their service to our community. This is a respectful criticism and I was obviously not inside the walls of the juror room when the decision was made.