Daryl Lemasters had something to say, he had been waiting two years to say it and, by God, he was going say it if it was the last thing he did.
That’s the feeling I got Tuesday as I watched Lemasters take the usually-untraveled road of taking the witness stand and — in essence — testifying against himself.
Lemasters, as you probably know, is the former Platte City business owner who is accused of sexually abusing two young girls. He has been incarcerated in the Platte County Jail since his arrest more than two years ago and his trial by jury began Monday morning at the Platte County Courthouse in Platte City.
For the straight news report on it, check out our front page story. For a little insight from yours truly, who spent a total of six hours Monday and Tuesday observing the trial from a not-so-comfortable wooden bench, read on.
When Lemasters’ attorney, Mark Jones, announced Tuesday afternoon that Lemasters wanted to testify, I was shocked at first. Mostly because defendants taking the witness stand in criminal cases against them doesn’t happen often. Most defense attorneys think they can defend their clients much better if they don’t give prosecutors a big bulls-eye to shoot at and advise against testifying.
But it was apparent that Lemasters wanted the opportunity to tell his side of the story and he did just that. And he appeared to be reveling in the moment.
Now, I don’t know whether that was just my take on it or whether anybody else saw it that way. And I don’t know if Lemasters is guilty or innocent of the crimes of which he is accused, although I think if you read our front page story you would agree with me that he is at the very least guilty of extremely poor judgement. All I know is that I saw a guy who was in the spotlight and it seemed to me like there was nowhere else he would rather have been at that moment. It felt like he belonged there.
As I realized that, I thought back to how I felt Monday when I watched the two young girls Lemasters is accused of abusing take a seat at the witness stand.
I thought how wrong that all seemed. Kids that age should never — ever — have to sit in a sterile courtroom and talk to complete strangers about such things.
No matter the jury’s verdict — and it could be a few days as the trial was set to resume this morning (Wednesday) — those girls will never be able to shed the chains this trial has shackled them with.
Surely there must be a better way to administer justice than at the expense of our most precious — and vulnerable — commodity.
Every adult involved should feel sick to their stomach.
I know I do.
TOTAL PRIVACY? NOT ANYMORE
People just plain crack me up.
They can’t go 10 minutes without texting, tweeting or Facebooking somebody or something and then they get all offended when somebody reports that the government is analyzing all that info being launched into cyberspace.
If you really, truly want total privacy, throw your cell phone in the trash. Disconnect your computer from the Internet. Quit telling the social media world your every opinion and whimsy.
Then we’ll talk.
WATSON A CLASS ACT
I met Tom Watson once, many years ago when he played in a Champions Tour event at the then-brand-new Tiffany Greens Golf Course. As a member of the media, I had just followed Watson around the course during the final round of the tournament and got the chance to speak with him during the post-tourney interview. Though he had just lost the tournament in heartbreaking fashion, he still answered the questions of this journalist that he had never seen before with class and respect.
As far as I can tell, Watson hasn’t changed much. At last weekend’s Watson Challenge at the National Golf Course in Parkville, Watson had a smile and a “How are you doing?” for everybody who lined the fairways and gathered near the tee boxes to watch him play.
I covered the first round last Friday and took a few pics and made a point of listening to the five-time British Open winner’s presser in The National clubhouse. He had to know he was probably going to win the event — and he did, for the fifth time in seven years — but he spoke as if every one of the challengers who had teed off that day had a chance.
Then he went out into the dining area and filled his plate from the tasty Mexican buffet, just like everybody else.
LET YOUR WHISKERS GROW
If you pay attention to such things, you probably know that this year’s Platte County Fair will be the 150th annual rendering of the summer’s hottest event. And you probably also know that our 27th annual Fair Guide will be published the week prior to the Fair, which is scheduled for July 23-27 at the Fairgrounds in Tracy.
And if you are really paying attention, I bet you know that as part of this historic Fair, an old-time beard/mustache contest will be held July 23. No wonder Gordon Baker looks like an Amish farmer.
Thanks for reading.
Lee Stubbs is owner/editor of The Citizen. He may be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.