Innocent Until Proven(?) Guilty

innocent until proven guilty

Are we really innocent until proven (?) guilty?

It is 1991

Desmoines Iowa

I am 18 years old


I am on trial for 1st Degree Robbery

Facing 25 years

in the State Penitentiary

He takes the stand

We will call him Robert

He is the State’s Witness

The Victim

Robert was an American Black Man

I am Caucasian

He points me out to the jury

He tells them

I turned around with a small silver revolver

I pointed it directly at him

And I said

“Give me your f****** money ni****”

That is not what happened

I was living with my girlfriend

The corner of 9th and Penn Ave

My mother lived in Yankton South Dakota

I had just returned from visiting her

I had been gone a week

Upon my return

My girlfriend

She asks to talk to me

She tells me that her ex-boyfriend

He had stopped by while I was gone

She explains

He had tried to put the moves on her

It was the 90’s in Desmoines Iowa

Acid was the drug of the time

And it was easily purchased in Desmoines

It was sold on paper sheets

Whether you wanted one dose or multiple

Grays Lake

You could buy it there

And that is just what they had done


My two friends

Art and Rick



They had gotten their hands on

Some liquid morphine.


There we were

Sitting out on the front steps

Penn and 9th

Tripping acid

All of a sudden

We seen him drive by


The ex-boyfriend

Quickly we devised a plan

We would get him high


We would take care of him

We yelled out to him

Had him pull in

Offered to share our drugs

All he had to do

Was drive us around

You have to have some history here

Rick Art and I

We go back

What I mean is

We have been through some things together

Street things

I knew without asking

Art had a knife

And a small dog choke collar

The choke collar

It had a large spark plug socket attached to it

The collar was Art’s favorite weapon

And he used it efficiently

The knife was backup


If you noticed

He was always drinking a soda pop

And not just any soda pop

The orginial Mountain Dew

That came in the long glass bottles

More than once

I was there

Witnessed one of these bottles

As it striked

Wielded by Rick

Landing on an unsuspecting jawline

And then there was me

Inside my coat pocket

I had a pool ball

Not just any pool ball

It was the 8 ball

And I had it in a sock

I have never been

One of the one puch guys

They hit you once

Fight is over

You are knocked out


My 8 ball in a sock

It changed that completely


After some hesitation

Suspicion losing the battle

The desire for free drugs

Once again a victor

Here we all were

Al Art Rick

And myself

In the car Al was driving

And we are all high

Al was nervous

It was easy to tell

He doing everything that he could

To try and offset the numbers we had against him

Driving all over Desmoines

Promising parties

More drugs


But everywhere we he took us


As a last ditch effort

I presume

Al drove through the hood

6th Ave

This is where we meet Robert

He was walking down the street

Al yelled out to him

Asking for cocaine

Robert replied

A question of his own

Could we get him marijuana

Al said yes

Instructs Robert to get in

Passenger side

My side

On autopilot

Caught off guard

I open my door

Lift the seat

Let him in the back

Directly behind me

Robert informs us

He was just in a car

It had gotten pulled over

By the police

He got away

This gives Robert both

Credibility and Suspcion

We all seen that car

As we were driving down the road

It was indeed

Surrounded by the cops

The fact that two guys were being handcuffed


He got away

Almost too much

For my delirious mind to handle

Robert and Al

They start to converse

Making a deal

Al was making his side of the story up

I figured that this diversion

It was somehow

Al’s way out

He knew that we were going to get him

But we were stuck

His car

Police just down the street

We had to let it play out

Minutes later

Al pulls into an apartment complex

Reaches under his front seat

And to my astonishment

Pulls out the weighted half of a pool stick

He turns around

Facing Robert

Threatens to put it

Upside his head

If he doesn’t give him his money

Al instructs me to

Search his pockets

My plan

Obviously out the window


I want no part of this

And I say so

I tell Al that he can search his pockets

I open my door

Lift my seat

Tell Robert to get out

As Robert is walking away

He forms his hands and fingers

Like a gun

Points it at me

And pretends to shoot

I had just saved this dude


I yell out

F*** You

Next time I will take your coat

Get out of here

I turn to Al

Take us home

Take us home now

I signal to Art

He comes around the backseat of Al

A knife to his neck

He too

Tells Al

Take us home

Here is where it goes haywire

Al is scared

Running redlights

Turning in circles

Driving wild through gas station parking lots

More red lights


The cops are behind us

We are being chased

Al pulls right back into the same apartment complex

Everybody jumps out of the car

Rick and Art

They hit the fence

Jump it

Head toward the Desmoines River



I run into the apartment building

I am close to home

Think I can make it

I will just go out the other side

Getting in was easy

Once there

I ran into a problem

You had to punch in a code

To access any floor

Once again

I was stuck

New plan

Take off my coat

My weapon

The sock at pool ball

Go back outside

I would be a bystander

A witness even

I would explain that I just seen them

Running the other way

I proceed toward the door

I am met by the police

I am taken outside

I am identified

My coat found

My weapon too

I was charged with 1st Degree Robbery

Right before we entered this courtroom

My attorney came to me

He had a plea bargain

Offered by the state

If I plead guilty to 1st Degree Theft

They would drop the Robbery Charge

I would go to prison for 90 days

Then Probation

5 years

I declined

I did not rob Robert

I saved him

I was Innocent


There was no way

I would be found guilty

Something that I didn”t do

Robert finished speaking

It was my turn

I took the stand

Swore to tell the truth

Nothing but the truth

And that is what I did

It was up to the jury now

151 minutes later

The jury was back


Labeled racist

Categorized as violent

Sentenced to prison

10 years


Dennis Cockerham

More from Dennis

Love, Addiction, Incarceration

Mixed Family

The Invisible Man


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