Criminals and their attorneys can come up with some really crazy and off the wall defenses. The worst things about “creative defenses” is that sometimes jurors actually believe them. Take as a classic instance, the so-called “Twinkie Defense” of Harvey Milk’s assassin. Peanut-brained Dan White shot both Milk and then-Mayor of San Francisco dead. The gun was called a security blanket that Dan White never planned to use according to one shrink. (There goes premeditated murder in the eyes of some really stupid San Francisco residents.) The really crazy part is that the defense that Dan White’s lawyers presented was that Dan White’s addiction to Twinkies and other junk food had raised his blood-sugar levels to, well, to a psychotic degree. The Harvey Milk assassin trial may be the peak of ridiculous legal defenses because the jury actually swallowed the Twinkie Defense and convicted a man who came to City Hall with a gun and bullets of involuntary manslaughter. Amazing.
Almost as amazing as O.J. Simpson getting off completely Groundskeeper Willie-free for killing his ex-wife and her friend, Ron Goldman. What was O.J. Simpson’s miraculous defense strategy? Well, there were several, but apparently the one that the OJ jurors bought was that O.J. Simpson was the victim of racial prejudice. Never mind that O.J. Simpson had been treated like the celebrity he used to be in all those other times that police were called to see how he had beaten up his wife. Stupendously amazing.
You just read about the Twinkie Defense; now, it’s time to take a quick look at the “Burrito Defense.” Edward Vasquez was a student at Cal-State University in 1988 when he was accused of shooting a security guard to death despite the fact that eyewitnesses described the shooter as wearing a T-shirt and Vasquez said he was wearing a green jacket. Vasquez said he was across the street and in the process of buying a burrito when the bullets flew and he was wounded. The jacket was seized by those wonderful L.A. cops and held for evidence the two years it took to come to trial. The reason this case is called the Burrito Defense is that Vasquez’s jacket contained a burrito from the very spot he said he was standing when the crime took place. Vasquez was acquitted of all charges.
The Dan Rather Defense has nothing to do with the frequency, Kenneth, but rather with a report that Dan Rather did on how to make speed. James Campbell was a chemist at Virginia Tech who happened to watch that news special. He was arrested for producing meth, which he said he was doing to pay off some debts. Apparently, Virginia is not just for lovers, but also conservative woolly-heads because Campbell was sentenced to probation. His defense? Watching liberal Dan Rather’s report on making speed made him do it.