& Yr’s Truly was plowing though a pile of ancient files the other day on a mission to throw away something — anything! — and satisfy the urge that comes with each spring to dump about a billion pounds of stuff that I’ve been lugging around, from abode to abode to abode, for decades upon decades.
As usual, I was spending more time reading the stuff than throwing it away. After all, this material is approaching antique status — who’d have ever thought the writing on a flimsy piece of paper could last so long? It doesn’t matter what it said, it is the longevity that counts — sort of like the Dead Sea Scrolls. It might be worth something, you know.
Anyway. I came across a piece of teletype paper, ripped from some clacking machine in the New York Bureau of United Press International on Feb. 14, 1981. “I love this story,” my friend who then had worked for UPI had written across the top. She loved all sorts of weird stories. But that’s another story…
This one brought me back to the present, and to the current plight of one George Zimmerman, who will soon have to explain to a Florida jury why he thought it necessary to shoot to death a kid who was walking though his neighborhood with a cell phone and a bag of Skittles. One would suspect that George’s defense is going to require a good deal of imagination. He can probably only wish he had the excuse told to a New York jury 31 years ago by Noe Diaz Rodriguez…
BUFFALO, N.Y. (UPI) — A 6-FOOT-1, 210-POUND BARTENDER SAID HE DREW A REVOLVER BECAUSE HE THOUGHT AN 80-POUND, 4-FOOT MIDGET WRESTLER WAS GOING TO CLIMB OVER THE BAR AND KILL HIM.
THE .38-CALIBER HANDGUN WENT OFF, STRIKING JUAN “CHICO” MORALES, 45, IN THE FACE AND KILLING HIM.
NOE DIAZ RODRIGUEZ, FORMER OWNER OF THE PUERTO RICAN ATHLETIC CLUB, TOLD THE ERIE COUNTY COURT JURY HEARING HIS MANSLAUGHTER CASE FRIDAY THAT MORALES WAS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE PUERTO RICAN COMMUNITY FOR “ABUSING PEOPLE” AND FOR HIS FEATS OF STRENGTH.
HE TESTIFIED THAT HE HAD KICKED MORALES OUT OF THE CLUB LAST SEPT. 7 FOR EXPOSING HIMSELF TO PATRONS, AND CLAIMED MORALES — A FORMER MIDGET WRESTLER — ASKED AROUND FOR A GUN, THEN HIT HIM WITH A POOL CUE BEFORE LEAVING.
MORALES RETURNED LATER, RODRIGUEZ SAID, SAT ACROSS THE BAR FROM HIM AND PUT HIS HAND IN HIS POCKET AS IF HE WERE DRAWING A WEAPON.
RODRIGUEZ SAID HE HAD ACQUIRED THE GUN JUST HOURS BEFORE MORALES WAS KILLED. HE TESTIFIED HE DID NOT KNOW HOW IT WENT OFF, BUT ADDED THAT HE DRANK 36 BOTTLES OF BEER AND EIGHT MIXED DRINKS IN THE 10 HOURS BEFORE THE SHOOTING.
POLICE SAID RODRIGUEZ FLED THE CITY AFTER THE SHOOTING AND WAS ARRESTED IN ATLANTA AS HE TRIED TO MAKE HIS WAY TO PUERTO RICO.
THE CASE WAS EXPECTED TO GO TO THE JURY ON WEDNESDAY.
The outcome of the trial and fate of Noe Diaz Rodriguez is, unfortunately, not to be found in my archives, which are ordered along the same lines as ticker tape, after the parade. What might have been the result, I wonder, if New York had a silly stand-your-ground law in place (it didn’t, and still doesn’t).
Does a former wrestler — midget or otherwise — who flashes the clientele, beans the barkeep with a pool cue and threatens to come over the bar and put a hurt on the blitzed bartender deserve to die? Of course the jury might have had trouble reconciling the fact that the bartender had been guzzling at least a bottle of beer every 15 minutes for the previous 10 hours before the trigger went off. It’s no wonder that Rodriguez wasn’t especially clear on how that trigger got pulled, but it is a wonder that he managed to even point the gun in the direction of the little fella coming over the bar.
& Speaking of Zimmerman, I’m puzzled by what seems to be emerging as his primary defense, which is that Trayvon Martin, the young guy with the cell phone and the Skittles, was beating his head against the sidewalk. I’m wondering where the gun was as George was suffering this beating, and why he didn’t use it then, and how he managed to get to his feet, point the gun and fire off a round into Martin’s chest. Did Martin, the alleged head-beater, just stand there and let him do it? Like I said, I think the Zimster’s defense will require a little imagination.
& Imagining whirled peas, I’m outta here.