It was a couple stories ago, when we met Guy DeChamois - and learned of his penchant for collecting golf balls...some of them still moving on the fairways of Traylor County Golf Courses. Here's the follow-up direct from the courtroom! Larry
After a longish trial in Traylor County Court, Guy DeChamois, a 51-year-old Plunker Landing resident and owner of Le Chat en les Chapeaux was found guilty of multiple charges by a jury consisting mostly of his peers. The charges included: Aggravated Golf Ball Hawking, Establishing a Museum-Like Facility Without a Permit and Walking a Dog Without a Plastic Bag. Shortly after the verdict, DeChamois was sentenced by Judge Orson E. O’Hall.
The trial was held in the semi-temporary court room trailer behind the County Courthouse - which as been under repair since the mid 2000s. The proceeding was an emotional roller coaster that took at least 45 minutes of time that no one will ever get back.
Prosecuting Attorney, Jimmy Jimbo Hurtz called three witnesses to the stand: Persimmon Pines Police Chief, Candy Stazniack, longtime Valley Heights Country Club Member, Reggie Sputz and actual witness, Junefrieda Wobblash.
Stazniack testified the 79-year-old Wobblash who is a resident of the Traylor Park Luxury Condos - and, also her Aunt — called her on her cellphone and reported seeing a flamboyantly dressed man running in and out of the woods along the 7th fairway at the Slippery Meadows Golf Course. “She said he was doing this ‘in a suspicious manner,’” said Stazniak.
The Chief said she immediately left the Soft Serve Ice Cream window at the Chockasoutauk Casino and “high-tailed it to the 7th hole of the golf course” where she left deep ruts in the green and apprehended DeChamois as he attempted to “either swallow the evidence; or, hide it in his pants…or both. We never could figure out what he was up to. I mean…he’s definitely sort of guilty!”
The witness, Ms. Wobblash was also called to the stand. But, she sobbed uncontrollably while screaming she could not remember anything “because my niece says Mr. DeChamois will kill me if I do.”
The final Prosecution witness, Reggie Sputz testified he lost many balls along the fairways of the Valley Heights Country Club course and “often felt like he shouldn’t have lost all the balls he did.” However on cross examination, Sputz admitted he has a “terrible slice” and, quite possibly, simply lost the balls in the woods like everybody else does.
After DeChamois’ Court appointed defense attorney, Patricia Ulyee, poked holes in the testimony of the County’s two witnesses on cross examination, she proceeded to call a veritable army of character witnesses to stand up for her client.
First up was Judy Liverlung, General Manager of Traylor Park Natural Foods. Ms. Liverlung said she is a regular customer at Le Chat en les Chapeaux. “I feel Mr. DeChamois operates a very fair establishment with very little price gouging. I only had my credit card information stolen once. And, I don’t think Guy was in on it. Oh! And, the time he was accused of shoplifting at Traylor Park Natural Foods, it was totally a misunderstanding. He didn’t realize the pistachios were in his pants…you know, where he’s accused of hiding the golf balls. Hmmm.”
Following Ms. Liverlung, Eartha Scorch the former massage therapist at the Golfers Outcall Massage at Scubbins Quarry and current tattoo artist at Kat’s Tats (owned by Katerina Kornwholer) took the stand as a character witness and offered: “Guy always pays up front for his tattoos - unless he’s a little short - and that’s like always - right Guy? But, we love him at Kat’s Tats, cause he is always bringing us golf balls - and we sell ‘em in bags of two dozen and that pays off what he owes. He’s a really good dude.”
Another twelve witnesses followed - among them, DeChamois’ 82 year old Mother, who broke down on the stand and pleaded with anyone who would listen: “Can’t you all just leave my little boy alone? Wasn’t it bad enough he got a year of probation for stealing something - I can’t remember what. I mean it was in a garage. Nobody was using it!”
After witness testimony wrapped up, Judge O’Hall asked Prosecution and Defense attorneys if they had any closing arguments. Prosecutor Hurtz shook his head “no.” Defense Attorney Ulyee checked her watch. “I have a lunch appointment I don’t want to be late for…so, no.” The Judge nodded and turned to the Jury box. But, before he could send the case to the jury, the Jury Foreman, Julene Huffaton (Spokesperson for PACT - People Against Cool Things), stood. “We already voted, Your Honor.”
Judge O’Hall nodded. “It is getting close to lunchtime. So, what did you guys come up with?”
Huffaton didn’t dawdle. “Guilty…but, he’s not a bad guy…you know?”
The Judge thanked Huffaton and the rest of the Jury and turned back to the courtroom. “I’m hungry, too. So, I’m gonna pass sentence. I don’t believe I have ever been involved in a trial quite like this. On the one hand, the prosecution didn’t even come close to proving its case. It’s kind of like they didn’t even try.”
Prosecutor Hurtz rose to object: “Your honor, I was busy. My granddaughter was just starting pre-school and I didn’t have a lot of time for work.
The Judge banged his gavel. “Hold your water, Jimbo, I don’t plan to rain on your parade.”
That comment brought Defense Attorney Ulyee to her feet. “I object! Your Honor, no one told us about any kind of parade!”
The Defendant, DeChamois jumped up. “There’s a parade? When and where!?”
Another banging gavel quieted the courtroom. “If there’s another outburst like this, I’ll have to bang my gavel again.” Everyone sat quickly. Order returned to the stately doublewide courtroom as folding chairs and plastic lawn furniture scooted back into position.
“Now, like I said, the Prosecution didn’t do any kind of a job to prove nothin’.”
The Defendant, DeChamois stood up and stuck his tongue out at Mr. Hurtz. “Oh my god, I’m gonna beat this! Loser!”
The Judge raised his gavel, but DeChamois quickly sat down. “Sorry Judge.”
Judge O’Hall adjusted his glasses. “But, I also find that the Defense’s attempts to provide character witnesses who could completely exonerate the Defendant were - to say the least - not totally effective.” At this point, the judge took a long sip of water, leaving everyone in the courtroom to watch uncomfortably as some water trickled over his lower lip, down his chin and onto the verdict. Hall, blotted at the paper with his robe and continued.”
“Therefore, I find the defendant guilty of the charges - even though nobody even mentioned walking a dog without a plastic bag…which I thought was the worst of the three.” The Judge took another sloppy swig of water and didn’t bother wiping it up, this time. “But, here’s the cool part of all this. I’m sentencing you, Mr. DeChamois, to Community Service.” Another eruption of emotion flowed from both sides of the aisle. The Judge scowled and reached for his gavel. The courtroom quieted. “Before either side gets all excited, let me finish.”
A single golf ball slipped out of DeChamois’ pockets and bounced twice on the floor before he grabbed it and slid it out of view. Judge O’Hall returned to his sentencing notes. “As you know I work for the County. I’m on a committee that’s been looking for a Director for the Traylor County Natural History Museum for some time. We aren’t offering a lot of money. So, that’s probably why no one wants the job. But, here’s the deal, Mr. DeChamois - you are guilty of running an unlicensed stolen golf ball museum in your home - so, you’re a good fit to run the County Natural History Museum!”
“You’re offering me the job?” DeChamois half-rose - trying to avoid another round of gavel pounding.
“No, Guy, actually I’m sentencing you to 12 years of Community Service as the Director of the Museum. You don’t get paid. But, you don’t go to jail, either. Best of all, the County doesn’t have to waste time trying to fill this position! And I can quit going to worthless meetings. Bailiff, take this convict to his new offices at the Natural History Museum. Court adjourned. I’ll see ya’ll at the Food Truck with the juicy sliders. It’s parked one block over!”
While legal scholars argue over the fairness of the sentence, Guy DeChamois is now working for free at the Traylor County Museum of Natural History. We caught up with him, in his orange safety vest, as he was stuffing a rare, Blue Faced Warbler - for display in the endangered species display.
“I don’t have any hard feelings toward the Judge. I enjoy the work. And, I feel I’m really giving back to my community. Did that bird just wiggle?”
This reporter shakes his head “no.”
“Good, cause last time I had to chase him all over the room with a baseball bat. I really need this little guy to fill out the endangered species exhibit. It wasn’t easy to fine one - they’re almost extinct!”
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."