Patterico's Pontifications


Billy Joe Shaver: Not Guilty

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 4:38 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

After less than 2 hours of deliberations, a Waco, Texas, jury found Billy Joe Shaver not guilty of aggravated assault. The case went to the jury around 4:30 PM CST:

“The jury in Billy Joe Shaver’s aggravated assault trial began deliberating at 4:30 p.m. today after prosecutor Beth Toben told them that the country music singer and songwriter acted like a bully in shooting a man in the face in 2007.

“He may be a honky tonk hero,” Toben said, referring to the title of Shaver’s autobiography, “and he may have written a lot of wonderful songs… but on that day, he was a honky tonk bully.”

Shaver’s lawyer Dick DeGuerin told the jury that Shaver, 70, acted in self-defense in shooting Billy Coker, 53, with a .22 on the bar’s back patio on March 31, 2007.

“The defense to aggravated assault is self defense. It’s a God given right that is recognized by our law since time began,” said DeGuerin, of Houston.”

Emotions were high during the trial, especially when Shaver was on the stand:

“Toben suggested that Shaver had many opportunities to leave Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon on March 31, 2007, if he felt threatened by Billy Coker, the man Shaver shot that night.

Shaver said his wife was still in the bar, and he didn’t want to leave her there.

“If I was chicken (expletive), I would have left, yes,” Shaver said, adding that people need to be tough in entertainment business.

Toben asked Shaver to restate what he said before the shooting.

“I actually asked him ‘Why do you want to do this.’ For one reason or another someone turned it into ‘Where do you want it,’ ” he said.

“You’re still gonna write the song but,” with different lyrics, Toben asked.

That comment caused an objection by Shaver and his lawyer and verbal outbursts by some of those in state District Judge Matt Johnson’s courtroom. One man was escorted from court for yelling “come on, woman.”

Celebrities also offered Shaver support yesterday:

“The forensic evidence and police report testimonies of witnesses called by the prosecution made the wooden seats of the McLennan County Courthouse grow harder by the hour Thursday. But it was the courtroom gallery, not the witness stand, that drew the most attention on the third day of songwriter Billy Joe Shaver’s aggravated assault trial.

“Look, it’s Gus McCall,” exclaimed witness Gloria Tambling, who owns Papa Joe’s, the bar where Shaver shot a man in March 2007. Her eyes widened when she was guided past actor Robert Duvall (whose “Lonesome Dove” character was actually named Gus McCrae ), sitting in the front row of the spectators section. Willie Nelson was directly behind him.

But not everyone in the packed courtroom was a fan. Prosecutor Mark Parker tried to subpoena Nelson, which defense attorney Dick DeGuerin protested.

“It was just a ploy to kick Willie out of the courtroom,” DeGuerin said after court recessed for the day. Called witnesses are not allowed to hear the testimony of others. “They didn’t want the jury to see Willie and be swayed.” But DeGuerin won the battle, and Nelson, Duvall and their wives stayed for the entire 9-1/2-hour session.”

I bet someone will write a song.


11 Responses to “Billy Joe Shaver: Not Guilty”

  1. Those are some loyal friends.

    Gotta like Texas though….

    Steve G (7d4c78)

  2. Shaver still faces charges for unlawfully carrying a licensed weapon. I assume this means he was the licensed owner of the handgun but not authorized to carry concealed. His attorneys wants to plea bargain on that charge. Meanwhile, Shaver and his band are playing a gig in Houston tonight.

    DRJ (daa62a)

  3. I bet someone will write a song.

    I bet somebody’s wrangling for book and movie rights.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  4. Gotta love Texas…..

    Teetop (1f1551)

  5. Shoot first, pray you live. Or, in this case, stay out of prison.

    I had not realized the age difference. That would have made a big difference to me as a juror.

    nk (db4a41)

  6. In Texas, they actually believe that there are people that deserve to be shot; in contrast to many areas in the country, who mistakenly believe that that is not the case.

    AD - RtR/OS! (4a3dc0)

  7. There were several witnesses who claimed Shaver acted provocatively and was the aggressor, but the reports suggested all of them were patrons at the bar. My guess is the Waco jurors may have been skeptical about the veracity of the bar patrons, especially since the prosecution has the burden of proof. On the other hand, it could also be the jurors believed Shaver and his ex-wife more than they believed the other witnesses.

    DRJ (daa62a)

  8. There is an assumption of the risk anytime you enter a bar. Jurors figure that everyone knows bad things can happen at a bar.

    What does that T-shirt say, “Instant Asshole–Just add alcohol.”

    Alta Bob (e8af2b)

  9. The shot to the face is a key element in the whole sorry episode. It indicates heightened malice, and it’s also how the wounded defenders of the Alamo were lined up and dispatched one by one.

    ropelight (20ecd3)

  10. In Texas, they actually believe that there are people that deserve to be shot

    Yep. That includes Blacks, Latinos, Gays and females who dare to answer. Texans: they can’t read, they can’t spell but they can shoot!

    Triumph (b66fe4)

  11. Comment by Triumph — 4/10/2010 @ 8:53 am

    Stereotype much?

    Isn’t Texas the new high tech center of America? At what point do these images of Texans get updated to reflect reality?

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

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