Sunday, December 30, 2012

How I Almost Vehicular Manslaughtered

I think it’s time that I write down some memorable stories from my life. This particular story starts on March 24, 2008. I did not have a job. The only big plans I had were to go on my mission (check a few posts back for some stories on that) one week later. So to kill some time, I decided to visit a few friends from my college days (which I’m eternally stuck in) in Rexburg, Idaho. Tucker Davis thought this was a good idea and he had nothing better to do, so he decided to join me on the trip.

That day I had a lead foot. Well, in those days every day I had a lead foot. So they say. I was driving my dad’s Volkswagen Jetta. Most cars in the United States, whether they are foreign or domestic have governors that shut down the engine if they reach a certain speed, usually around 110 mph. Volkswagens don’t have that restriction.

We left at a decent time in the morning. Usually the drive from Castle Rock to Rexburg will take about 12 hours. We were making pretty good time. We had to stop to get Tucker’s paycheck and we got Cap’n Crunch milkshakes at Charley’s but we hit the Wyoming state line pretty quickly. Tucker had the bright idea of bringing his police scanner so that my lead foot wouldn’t get caught. It worked pretty good near Greeley (which smells like poop, and if you don’t believe me, go there) when it beeped at us to slow us down and sure enough a quarter mile down the road, there was Johnny Law speed checking.

Like I said we were making pretty good time. Actually we were making excellent time. And by excellent, I mean we hit Laramie in about 1.5 hours. Which usually takes 3-4 hours. If I remember right we had maxed out at 120 mph, which up until that moment was my personal land speed record. Then the fun started.

I-80 through Wyoming looks like this:

Yes, Wyoming is that boring. So it is best to drive as fast as you can to get out of that wretched place. And plus, it is really easy to drive fast because of how straight the freeway is. I wanted to see just how fast I could go.

I handily beat my personal land speed record. I took a picture of the max, which was 147 mph. At that speed, when there’s a bump in the road, the car catches some air, or so it seems. The steering wheel feels unstable. And other cars seem pretty slow. We went really fast for a really long time. I think we averaged 115-120. When we had to slow down to 80 for the other traffic, it felt like we were driving through a school zone. Tucker fell asleep a few times.

Then as we were coming down the pass in to Rock Springs, I saw something I dreaded behind me. It was a brown state trooper car up to no good. As I merged right from the far left lane, the cop car followed and merged as well. That was not a good sign. At that point I was only doing 80, so I thought it might be a routine thing and that I wasn’t in trouble. Then the red and blue flashing lights came on. Still, I felt slightly confident that this was a routine traffic stop. I pulled over and rolled down my window. The cop stopped behind me and stepped out of her vehicle. Yes, her. She approached my car and stopped at the trunk and said, “Driver, stop the engine and step out of the vehicle.”

This was when I thought that maybe I was caught.

I walked towards the officer and she asked, “Do you know how fast you were going?”

“I don’t know, probably 80?”

“I registered you going 120.”

“Ummm, ok.”

“You are under arrest. Turn around and place your hands behind your back.”

That was odd; I’d never heard those words before besides on the television. I didn’t feel like causing a commotion, so I did just that. She asked if I had any weapons on my person, which I didn’t and she cuffed me. I had a thick watch on that when she cuffed me started to dig pretty good into my wrist. Handcuffs aren’t comfortable at all. They make your wrists bend slightly uncomfortably outwards.

This wasn’t my first interaction with an officer of the law. Usually I felt that they felt they needed to assert some authority and move on. I thought this might be one of those moments at first. That she would cuff me, talk to me, give me a ticket and move on. Then she put me in the back of her car. Well, that was turn for the worse.

Mostly, I felt confused. I like planning events in my life, and this definitely was unplanned.

She had taken my driver’s license out of my back pocket, but she and Tucker couldn’t find the vehicle insurance. She called in to headquarters that she was on her way to the detention center to bring me in. 10-4.

On the drive I asked what was going to happen and she told me that we would go to the station, they would book me in, then Tucker, who was following us, could bail me out and/or I’d talk to the judge.
According to Wyoming state records we arrived at the Sweetwater County Detention Center at 1:53 PM. The officer pulled into a garage, then let me out of the car where she led me into the booking center. Once in there, another officer took off my handcuffs and told me to stand against the wall, to spread my legs shoulder width apart and to place my hands on the wall at the same distance apart. He cleaned out all of my pockets, took my belt, my jacket, and my pride. He put all my personal items in a Ziploc bag which he put in a slot where an officer on the other side took it. We went through a door into an office area where other inmates were shackled. They had just gotten back from their inmate work release program. They went to their cells. I was shell shocked.

They had me sit in an uncomfortable orange plastic chair. I sat in the middle of three, which were backed by three other chairs. They were planted firmly in the floor, I suppose so that the criminals won’t throw them. That is effective design.

Three officers typed away as I sat there. The officer that arrested me came in with the report she had written out and said that she had put me at 110 mph because I did not resist arrest. One of the officers told me that I should possibly be able to see the judge that afternoon and then be on my way. Every officer I met would say, “120?!?! You could’ve killed somebody.”

They took mug shots. Face forward. Turn to the right. Turn to the left.

I waited. They showed me the formal charges: 1) No proof of insurance, 2) Speed over 75, 3) something absurd like “Excessive speed with attempted vehicular manslaughter.” I don’t remember the exact words of the charge, but that was the general idea, that I was going so effing fast that I was trying to kill my passenger.

The judge turned out to be lazy and wanted to go home, so I wasn’t able to see him that day. So they gave me some prison clothes to change into and told me that in the name of habeas corpus I would see a judge within 24 hours, but that I was staying the night.

The officer that checked me for contraband when I was checked in took me to a room where he gave me my yellow jumpsuit, some socks and some shoes to wear. The jump suit felt stiffer than a board and the shoes were more flimsy than a piece of cooked spaghetti. That usually should be the opposite, but I’m not a fashion designer. I was pulled out of my shock and for the first time thought, “Ah, crap, what have I gotten myself into?” when I pulled on my socks and they ripped pretty cleanly.

They took mug shots again. Then they cuffed me again and gave me a Ziploc bag of personal items I could use – an ink cartridge, a spork, a paper cup, some soap, some shampoo, a personal razor, a towel.

They took me to cell block D. There, they uncuffed me and  I was given a cell and I was free to roam. The cell block consisted of two stories of cells opposite a one-way mirrored wall. There were 4 tables with benches attached- the kind found in an elementary school cafeteria, and about 5 tables with plastic lawn chairs scattered about the common space. The inmates seemed calm. I met my cell mate, he was an Asian guy about the same age as me, he was in for marijuana distribution.

The cell had cinderblock walls and a small window above the metal bunk about the size of a cinder block. There was a metal toilet in the cell and a sink and mirror above that.

I sat in a chair and observed the scene. One inmate with a long green mohawk paced back and forth in front of the upstairs cells. One inmate came out of his cell and yawned a large yawn, he was particularly memorable because his chest and back were even hairier than my dad’s. Had an unkempt head of hair and large beard. There was little skin visible. His cell mate had just gotten back from outdoor exercise and was particularly boisterous. They had become the best of friends.

Dinner came in on a cart around 6. We had to line up single file and we filled our cups with either water or tang. I chose water. For dinner was beef stroganoff. That meal is the reason I cringe whenever stroganoff is mentioned.

At 7:30 we had an hour long lockdown. That was routine, and they did a head count. I grabbed a Tom Clancy book from the book cart, and I read a good portion of it, but I don’t think I comprehended any sentence of it. After we were let out of our cells, I sat at a table with some more experienced inmates and we played rummy.

One was doing time for his third DUI offense, and this time he was caught drinking while operating heavy machinery at work.

Another was doing time for assault. He had a 30 day sentence that he originally was serving only Friday afternoons until Sunday afternoons, so that he could work during the week. When he missed a couple weeks of that, the judge made him stay straight through the 30 days and tacked on 5 more for good measure.

At 10:30, it was lock down time again. I climbed on my bed, which was a blanket on top of the metal slab and got under another blanket. It was cold. Not bone chilling, but enough to be uncomfortable. Other inmates yelled the whole night. Just kept on yelling and yelling and yelling. From around midnight until 2:30 there was a crew of inmates waxing the floors. I did not really sleep. I just laid there and wondered what I had gotten myself into.

When morning rolled around I sat around waiting for court to come. The more experienced inmates told me that I could go at either 10 or 11 or 12, depending on whether it was state or county or city court that I was going to. Breakfast was corn flakes in paper bowls. I don’t eat corn flakes anymore.

10 rolled around and no one came for me.

11 came and went and no one came to get me.

The clock struck 12 and 5 minutes later a guard came and called my name. She cuffed me and walked me down the hall to the booking center.

I was told that the judge was going to see me an hour from then. They put me in a holding cell and gave me a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. I had 2 bites.

They pulled me out of the cell and had me kneel on the orange chairs. Then they proceeded to put me in shackles. When I stood up, that was a moment where I truly felt in every way like a criminal.

There was one other inmate going to court at the same time. She was my age and looked like a complete mess. She had ratty hair and mascara smeared all over. Her eyes were sunken and she looked malnourished. She wasn’t skinny, she just looked unhealthy. Her name was Seanna, and she was being charged with child endangerment and possession of a controlled substance. That substance was meth.

Please note that we have the same expression in our mug shots.

We were loaded into a van and chained to the floor. They drove us to the courthouse.

Then they led us to the courtroom on the second floor. We sat down in the criminal section. About five minutes after we arrived, Tucker showed up. When he saw me he started laughing. He couldn’t stop.

The judge came in and we rose in his honor. I was the first to go and was asked to take the defendants place. They uncuffed my right hand so I could write, pledge and use it to wipe away my tears. I didn’t cry. I had no reason to, but just in case there was a tissue box to the side of the podium.

The district attorney presented the charges. Adding on to the charges he stated that it is noted that I had a radar detector in my car, so that presented my state of mind.

The judge asked how I pled, and I said, “Guilty.” He asked if I had anything to say about it, and I said that it was a dumb choice and that I wanted to pay maximum fines/whatever to get out of jail and to go on my mission the next week. The judge asked the district attorney what kind of sentencing the state pursued and the D.A. said maximum fines and sentence. He also noted that if needed, he knew how to get a hold of my mission and M.T.C. presidents if I didn’t comply with my sentencing. The judge thought for a moment and gave a sentence of 20 days in jail with maximum fines. Having served 1 day already, that left 19 and he told me that those 19 would be served on probation, with the probation being that I couldn’t break any type of law. He also noted that maximum fines were only $200, and that the Wyoming legislature should consider raising those. I also had to show proof of insurance within 24 hours. 

I sat down with a weight off my shoulders. I felt relieved even though I was cuffed again.

Seanna took the stand and sobbed uncontrollably. She used the tissue box. It was her 7th arrest, and her third time with the child endangerment and possession of meth charges. She hasn’t been arrested again in Sweetwater County, so maybe the third time’s the charm.

We went out in to the hallway to the clerk’s desk where we could sign our documents and Tucker met me there. He had my card and was going to pay the fines so that I could be released as soon as I got back to the jail. They put us back in the van and took us back to the detention center.

I waited until all the court proceedings went through and then I was uncuffed and given my clothes and personal items. I changed and left. Tucker was waiting for me in the waiting room and I just started laughing when I saw him.

He told me that he had talked to my mom already. She had called my phone 11 times, and on the 12th he decided to finally answer. He said that when he broke the news she started laughing. She laughs about it to this day.

We went back to the courthouse to show proof of insurance, which sure enough was in the glove box.

I had Tucker drive the rest of the way to Rexburg, there was no way I was risking getting in any trouble.

I still have my ID card from the Sweetwater County Detention Center, and I have found my mug shot and all booking information online at

That is also where I found all of Seanna’s information as well. I rifled through mug shots of people booked in on the same day as me, and I recognized her almost immediately.

"I am the fortunate one, left with the blood in my skin.
You are the only thing I hope is real in a dark world.
I am the fortunate one, left with the blood in my limbs.
You are the only thing I hope is real in a dark world."
- Last Breath - O'Brother


Corina said...

Great read! Loved all of the details you left out when you told me the story when you got home from Rexburg.

Did I ever tell you I finally got a ticket? 4th time being pulled over....and I haven't been pulled over since.

Ranlikegel said...

False. Asians don't do drugs. They do math.
Good work, Devon. Great read.