Strange occupational moments


Tyler Murphy

So at around 10 a.m. yesterday I stood outside the Broad Street Tavern. The weather was nice and all of downtown including the sidewalk was draped in the bright morning sun. The bar was closed and I paced slowly back and forth looking for traces of blood left over from this weekend’s knife assault that sent six people to the hospital. A local news station had broadcast a dried pool of blood and crushed cigarette butts a day earlier and I was here to see if any photographic potential still remained.

I nudged piles of dried blood and debris here and there smearing small tracks of dark paste along the pavement but there was nothing worth a picture. Feeling slightly disappointed I was away for the weekend and missed a significant news event in my backyard I realized how strange an occupational moment I was having. Although in the past wiping a stabbing victim’s day old blood off my dress shoes might have given me pause it’s only one of a number of things I’d say where a first for me since I took this job.

A small town reporting position that has seen a lot of big time crimes in the last three years, relatively speaking of course. There are certainly areas where these kinds of things happen every day but this isn’t one of them.

Later that day I’d find myself with an older man and his two sons, both in their mid twenties, as they helped to push my car onto the snow covered roadway. I was dispatched to Hunt’s Pond in New Berlin to take a handful of pictures for some upcoming stories since the governor announced the park was on the state’s chopping block a few days ago.

If you’ve never been to Hunt’s Pond it’s a beautiful place and a bit treacherous in the winter months as I found out. The roads into the park are scarcely plowed and the only path cut through the drifts yesterday was a dozen or so tire tracks from ice fisherman and their pick-ups. I pulled a little too far off the narrow roadway and had a tough time getting back on. Luckily the good hearted outdoorsmen lent a hand.

But before all that I clumsily walked a few of the game trails in my suit and tie snapping iconic state park pictures of landscapes, benches, signs, pavilions, and of course the frozen pond. The entire place was coated in a shell of thin ice, even the pine needles. Clumps of sound absorbing snow were nestled in almost every tree top and at points nothing man made could be seen in any open direction. I could hear the distant remarks of men out on the ice, less than a dozen several hundred yards away. Their words were softly spoken but there was no other sound to be heard. I tormented myself with the idea of quitting my job and going ice fishing, it seems so long since I had visited such a desolate and peaceful piece of country. Compared to this morning’s search for signs of violence along Broad St. this was the complete opposite side of another strange occupational moment.

Last week I sat through a two day jury trial of a man accused of felony driving while intoxicated. Although the case itself is not so glamorous when compared to some of the other crimes working their way through the court system it was an incredibly well prosecuted and defended case. District Attorney Joseph McBride squared off against a private defense lawyer Jeffrey Leibo of Syracuse. (Mr. DWI Guy’s firm).

Articulate debate and clever turns of phrase were parried at just about every aspect of the trial. Both closing arguments before the jury were among some of the best I’ve heard and I felt myself convinced immediately following each argument that their side must be the just one. I’m glad in this case to have been a spectator and not a juror. Watching a well executed trial in local court, especially one of the more mundane, can truly inspire a faith in the system. The man was found not guilty of felony DWI but guilty of DWAI, a misdemeanor. Kind of a win for the defense but not a loss for the prosecution. The middle road verdict reflected the equal talent of both attorneys and their presented cases.

Today I have no idea what to expect. I’ve identified three of the four stabbing victims. Maybe I’ll give one a call or perhaps the bar’s owner and just see what they say. There’s a teen pregnancy story in the works and a review of the Norwich City Police Department’s activities in 2009, not to mention a climbing number of interesting court cases. Each topic is filled with just as many chances for unusual occupational moments as yesterday.

You never know what to expect these days.