Monday, May 26, 2008

Brandishing leads to conviction

There are conflicting versions of how Tillory, a sweet-natured construction worker, came to have his first serious run-in with the law at age 52. But everyone agrees that it began with a quinceanera - and a dispute over the most common of neighborhood problems, loud music. The celebration of Imelda Barragan's 15th birthday was held on a Saturday, the day before Mother's Day 2007, outside her family's two-bedroom apartment in Mountain View. A carport had been emptied so a DJ could set up his equipment. The Latin music reverberated off its stuccoed walls and boomed into the neighborhood where, a short walk away, Tillory's 87-year-old mother was in bed trying to rest.

Tillory, an accomplished jazz musician, said the music had an underlying "base boom" similar to what's emitted by cars with outsize stereo systems, where you feel the music before you hear it. "It pierced right into the house, so you couldn't enjoy your television or get any peace at all," he told me.

About 7 p.m., Tillory walked over to complain, crossing an alley where street gangs tag even the abandoned couches. He spoke to the DJ, who agreed to lower the volume. Tillory was told not to return, but to call the police if he thought a noise law was being violated. Ignoring that advice, he returned a few hours later with what sounds to me like a do-it-yourself noise-busting kit: a bottle of water in his hand and a gun hidden in his pocket.

Somehow the water ended up splashing onto the DJ's computer. Tillory claims it was an accidental spill. The partygoers claim he was laughing as he poured out the water. As you might imagine, this led to a ruckus.

Accounts differ. Tillory said he was jumped, knocked down and choked. Partygoers said he shoved a woman and was pushed down as a result. Everyone agrees the ruckus ended once Tillory showed them the handgun. The piece was never fired, but the crowd backed off and Tillory took off.

I later asked Tillory why he brought a gun. In my neighborhood, he said, I often carry a gun for protection. I also asked him why he hadn't just called the police. Force of habit, he said, from growing up in a neighborhood where calling the police on anyone had severe repercussions.

When police did arrive, they believed the Barragans' account of a crazy neighbor disrupting the party and brandishing a gun, not Tillory's account of an accidental spill and a weapon drawn in self-defense. It didn't help Tillory's case that he was not especially cooperative, or that paramedics had to treat a young child in shock.

The jury that heard the case believed the Barragans, too. Wednesday Tillory was back before Superior Court Judge Bradford L. Andrews for sentencing. The sentencing guidelines called for seven years. The prosecution argued for one. And the Probation Department, like Tillory's attorney, recommended probation.

Judge Andrews, while sounding perplexed by Tillory's behavior, placed him on probation and ordered him to pay restitution to the Barragans. After a month in jail, Tillory went home. That's where I found him Friday, still remorseless and convinced he was the victim of a travesty of justice. "I just wanted them to turn the music down," he told me. "In this age of modern equipment, there has to be some restrictions. This is not stereo equipment. This is a band and public-address equipment."

More here

TX: Clerk shoots robber: "According to police, a man was killed Friday night after he was shot by a clerk during an armed robbery of a convenience store in the 1400 block of Brunswick Boulevard. Police Chief William McManus said the robber came in, pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded cash. The clerk then gave the robber the cash, police said, but the clerk then shot the man before he could run out of the store. Police said the robber then jumped into a getaway car, but was found dead inside the car a few blocks away. The cash was also inside. Police are still looking for the getaway driver. The clerk has not been charged in the death, police said, citing self defense."

AZ: Truck thief shot: "A vehicle theft suspect was shot and killed by a homeowner as the suspect drove his vehicle at him Thursday morning. Cody Geneha, 22, told police he was inside his home, near 31st and Glendale avenues, when he heard his truck being started at around 12:30 a.m. Geneha picked up a gun and went outside where he saw a man driving away in his truck. The vehicle thief made a U-turn and accelerated toward the homeowner, who was standing on the sidwalk, according to police. The homeowner fired several shots at the man in the truck. The vehicle crashed into a wall and when police arrived they found the suspect slumped over the wheel. The suspect had been shot in the head and died at the scene. Phoenix Police Homicide detectives are investigating, along with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. The homeowner was not arrested".

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