Wednesday, August 03, 2005

But Officer, It's A "Hard" Water Balloon

Vernon, the local bully when we were growing up, always relied on the kindness of others. "Loan me a quarter," he would say. We knew what "loan" meant so we usually complied never expecting to see the proffered 25 cents again.

One day, after a particularly exhausting baseball practice, we were heading out of the park with our minds firmly set on a sixteen ounce RC Cola and bag of barbecue potato chips when Vernon appeared. "Loan me a quarter."

Perhaps we were tired, or distracted by Barbara Bender who was walking across the street, or as one friend later said, suffering from severe loss of intelligence, but the word "no" escaped our lips before we could stop it.

"No" wasn't a word Vernon heard often so it caught him a little off guard. Recovering himself he reached out to grab us. For some reason that still escapes us we swung our bat (wooden one--old school) and caught him about mid thigh. It wasn't a hard blow, but the message apparently got through to Vernon, and he took us off his donors list. The point of the story is Vernon left us alone and we weren't arrested for a felony like this girl was.

Fresno's mayor and police chief say Maribel Cuevas's case was handled appropriately for brown skinned people, and that assault with a deadly weapon is the proper charge for throwing a 2-pound rock during a water balloon fight. "That's definitely felony weight," Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. "Anything over 12 ounces gets you the big house."

Maribel was arrested for throwing the rock at a boy who had pelted her with a water balloon. The rock gashed the boy's forehead, and the girl spent five days in Fresno's juvenile hall and a month under house arrest after police said she resisted arrest threatened to hold her breath until she passed out.

"This girl is a threat to society," Dyer said. "Well, maybe not so much now because her parents have grounded her, but before, yeah. The whole town was living in fear."

Elijah Vang, the boy who was injured by Maribel acknowledged throwing a water balloon at her. "Who knew girls could throw like that," he said. " After she gets out of prison we're going to ask her to try out for our little league team."

The kid skates.

Lawyers for an 11-year-old girl charged with assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a rock at a boy during a water balloon fight reached a deal Wednesday that allows the child to escape jail time. "She promised to come straight home after school and no TV for a month," said defense attorney Richard Beshwate Jr.

Maribel will not have to plead guilty, but she will have to participate in a mediation program in which she will be required to meet with her young victim but is prohibited from touching him with her girl cooties.

Fresno's mayor and police chief say Maribel's case was handled appropriately, and that assault with a deadly weapon is the proper charge for an act that might have had fatal consequences. "We can't have kids chucking rocks at one another. What's next? Running with scissors?" said Police Chief Dyer.

The victim's family was to testify for the prosecution but was not expected to be hostile to the defense, Beshwate said. The parents declined to press charges. When asked why the police department had arrested the girl when the parents of the victim had not pressed charges, Chief Dyer said it was important to teach children, 'especially brown children' a lesson.

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