Friday, April 9, 2010

Billy Joe Shaver Acquitted of Deadly Assault!

Jurors obviously like to see a man act like a man

"Friend, I can get more women than a passenger train."
- Billy Joe Shaver

In a unanimous verdict, the 8-man, 4-woman jury that heard
the case for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against
outlaw singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver acquitted him.

The Legendary learned of the verdict from one of the iconic
outlaw's many friends who called to say that the jurors
deliberated for about an hour and a half, asking twice to
review exhibits entered into evidence. First, they asked to
see pictures, then they asked for the frame and cylinder of
the tiny single action North American Arms .22 caliber
revolver he used to shoot Billy Coker in the face.

The shameful truth is that 54th District Judge Matt Johnson
ejected The Legendary from the courtroom when he laughed too
loudly at one of Mr. Shaver's rejoinders to prosecutor Beth
Toben as she obstinately hammered at his reputation through
impertinent and hostile, repetitive questions about his
status as an outlaw writer of country ballads - a man from a
gallery of honky tonk heroes who have been placed outside
the protections of conventional society.

The prosecutor asked earlier, "You had the wrong phrase, but
you wrote the song," in a line of questioning his famed
Houston defense attorney Dick DeGuerin objected to as
argumentative and repetitive - irrelevant.

Her affect and demeanor was quite demeaning, to say the

Another man at that point made a comment, "Oh, woman, go on,

After all, the matter goes to the First Amendment rights to
freely express oneself. Mr. Shaver expresses himself as an
outlaw. What of it?

The judge had him ejected.

A few minutes later, she began to question why Mr. Shaver
didn't leave instead of taking up the challenge to Mr.
Coker's aggressive and rude behavior in brandishing a deadly
knife and stirring peoples' drinks with it.

"A chickenshit would have left," he said.

She then began to give him the blues about her speculation
that he and his ex-wife Wanda had been fighting and he
wanted her to leave with him instead of talking to Billy
Coker, who said to him, "We're trying to talk. Shut the fuck

He explained that he had spent a lifetime in beer joints and
he knows when to leave before trouble starts.

In this case, however, trouble had already started because
Mr. Coker was berating her over the death by suicide of his
cousin, her former husband, who shot himself with his own
gun. Why didn't he simply go the other direction instead
of out the back door with Coker?

"No, ma'am, then he would have cut me."

Was the source of the confict really between he and Wanda?

He replied, "Friend, I can get more women than a passenger
train." The crowded courtroom burst into merriment.

Mr. Shaver is 70 years of age.

It was when the prosecutor began to question him about an
autobiographical book he co-authored with Brad Reagan, Honky
Tonk Hero
, University of Texas Press, 2005, that The
Legendary lost momentary cabin pressure and laughed too

"The truth is, Mr. Shaver, you've had a reputation all your
life as an outlaw."

"No, ma'am, I wish I had a book about you. I could

The Legendary could not help himself. His laughter was
loud, abrupt, and voluble. He was not alone. The judge,
visibly upset with The Legendary, ordered his immediate

Oh, well, it was lunch time, anyway, and Tommy Witherspoon
of the Waco "Tribune-Herald" has constantly reminded The
Legendary for a week that "This is my house," meaning the
McLennan County Courthouse. "If I'd known who you were, I
would have had you run off immediately," he said, more than

And it occurs to The Legendary that Ms. Toben in her own way
was reacting as an outlaw woman, that deadliest of creatures
who knows how to manipulate outlaw men to her best advantage
through her actions and her wily behavior. Witnesseth, she
is a female professional operating in the harsh and bruising
environment of criminal law as a prosecutor - to great
effect. Ms. Toben is a force to be reckoned with.

She was fully prepared to seek a conviction against the
aging troubador that could very well have seen him spending
the last of his days in the penitentiary because he simply
would not retreat in the face of aggression toward his


Enough said.

The Legendary had a chance to observe Mr. Shaver very
closely during his trial. He carried a medicine bag with
him every day in which he concealed assorted objects he used
as power fetishes, handling them, then going into periods of
trance-like meditation, eyes closed.

There was an eagle feather, a short string of multi-colored
beads, various small objects that he fondled and rubbed in
his mangled right hand, the one injured horribly in a
sawmill accident.

He was not really asleep during the afternoons. He was
resting his eyes and power napping the way elderly gentlemen
do, men such as Mr. Willie Nelson, who sat in the courtroom
with his eyes closed. There is no telling where
his warrior soul transported Himself during those periods.

Mr. Shaver's father was a Blackfoot Sioux, obviously a breed
with a hatchet nose and with Norman and Anglo Saxon
features. He had a fearsome reputation as a bootlegger and
bare knuckle fighter around the Navarro County seat of

At one point, The Legendary joined him in meditation and he
snapped wide awake, giving me a piercing look with his
ultra-blue eyes. He asked, "Are you doing okay?"

I replied, "Yes, Mr. Shaver, I'm doing fine. And so are
you, sir. So are you. Believe it."

Through the worst of it all, he kept his nerve, even when
the prosecutor quizzed him about serious neck injry gotten
in an Indian leg wrestling match at The Bellagio in Las
Vegas during a bacchanal arranged by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top
when he and Wanda Shaver re-did their wedding vows.

Obviously, these attacks on his credibility did not the
least bit of good with the jury of his peers. The men and
women who judged him found that the State of Texas had
failed to prove that he was not in fear for his life when he
acted to defend himself and his wife. His use of deadly
force, therefore, was justified, the point upon which his
attorney, Dick DeGuerin, hammered constantly through ques-
tioning of witnesses, objections and implication.

He got that point on the record is numerous ways.

Mr. Shaver's trials are not completely over.

He still faces a Class C felony charge of carrying a firearm
on premises licensed to sell alcoholic beverages that
derives more than 51 percent of its gross revenue from on-
premises sales of the poteen while licensed to carry a con-
cealed handgun.

He was bound over for trial on the cause on a $7,500
appearance bond.

If convicted, he is eligible for probation because he has
never before been convicted of a felony crime.

"And a man is a man for a'that," saith Bonnie Robert Burns,
poet laureate of Scotland and the first Grand Master of
Scottish Freemasons.

Something ancient and honorable was reaffirmed in Six
Shooter Junction today.

So mote it be.

Depend upon it.

Believe it.

I have spoken. It is my humble prayer. I am sincere.

- The Legendary

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