Saturday, February 7, 2015

Choices we make

Not all choices are good ones
Have you ever wondered what would have happened had you chosen a different path in life? Maybe had you studied harder in school and not taken that job flipping burgers to buy a car you would not still be flipping burgers for minimum wage (and still be driving that jalopy). Maybe had you stayed in college and not eloped with the treehugging hippy your mother didn't like you would not now be single, barefoot, and pregnant in Arkansas (not to say Arkansas is a bad place to live, but at least it's not Alabama!).

Anyway, the reason I'm thinking about decisions (good or bad) is because of a case I read in the Daily Appellate Report, People v. Zinda.  Apparently on the night that changed Mr. Zinda's life forever, some drunk guy drove his car into a ditch near Mr. Zinda's home. Around 4:00 AM, Zinda discovered that his house had been burgled.  Snatching up an ax Zinda ran outside and sees the soon to be deceased (and still slighly drunk) guy who had driven into a ditch.  Brandishing his ax, Mr. Zinda, thinking guy was one of the burglars, he yells out "Did your buddies leave you, man?"  Apparently guy was sober enough to see his life flash before his eyes and took off running (I mean, who wouldn't? - Zinda had an ax!) with Mr. Zinda in hot pursuit ending in Mr. Zinda burying the ax not a few times into guy.  Mr. Zinda was subsequently charged and convicted for second degree murder and is looking at 15 years to life.

But, here's where things get funny/sad.  Well, not funny in the sense that someone is dead but funny because it looks like Mr. Zinda represented himself in a criminal action. See, Mr. Zinda appealed his conviction for the primary reason(s) that:
  1. the homicide was justified (because he was in the process of making an arrest), and
  2. because he made an "honest" mistake (because he thought guy had burgled his house).
Now, does anyone, looking at the facts, think for a second that Mr. Zinda was looking to arrest guy with ax in hand?  Really?!  Raise your hand if you think hacking someone with an ax is a justifiable way to arrest someone.  Generally, when you arrest someone, you say things like "you're under arrest." What you don't do is chase someone with an axe and then jump on top of them and start hacking away.

Which brings us to the issue of Zinda's "mistake."  Zinda thought guy was a burgler.  I mean, reasonable assumption given that who except a burgler would be out and about at 4:00 AM, right?  Problem is, Zinda didn't really ask if guy was a burgler; Zinda just assumed guy was a burgler and, when guy took off running for his life, Zinda, with ax in hand, took off hot on guy's tail looking to do a little midnight plastic surgery on guys' sorry backside.  In guy's defense, anyone with a brain would think if someone is running after you with ax in hand, it is probably time to run - which guy tried to do. Too bad guy was still feeling the effects of his alcohol binge (which, no doubt, contributed to his demise).

In any event, while it is sad Mr. Zinder chose to use an ax to get his "point" across, I suspect that's why they say some people are in this world to act as a warning to others.  Moral: when next you see a guy/gal standing outside your house after the commission of a felony, don't just assume guy/gal was the one who did it (but if you are going to arrest them, try to keep the mayhem to a minimum).