Jurors Acquit Psychedelic Country-Rockers Of All Charges
July 16, 2008
MODESTO, California (CNN) — A California jury has exonerated four members of I See Hawks In L.A. of terrorism, indecency, contamination of public water supply, and public urination charges that could have sent them to prison for 20 years.
The jury deliberated about 22 hours throughout the course of four days before reaching its decision.The clerk of court read the verdicts Monday in a packed courtroom while a small but dedicated crowd of supporters waited outside. Hawks fans cheered, wept and hugged upon hearing the verdicts.
Courtroom observers reported that the band’s drummer Shawn Nourse dabbed his eyes with a tissue after his acquittal.Prosecutors had charged the drummer, along with three other band mates with fourteen counts ranging from public urination to terrorism, stemming from a controversial arrest of the band at a remote stretch of the California Aqueduct.
Kern County District Attorney Thomas Schmeeddon sat grim-faced during the reading of the verdict and said later that he would accept the decision.
“In 37 years [as a prosecutor], I’ve never quibbled with a jury’s verdict, and I’m not going to start today,” Schmeeddon said.Asked if the acquittal ends a rumored federal prosecution of the Hawks, Schmeeddon replied, “No comment.” Schmeeddon’s palpable anger at the verdict may be fueled by lead singer Rob Waller’s public justification of the band’s alleged actions, in a jail cell interview the day after the incident.
Jurors were not convinced by arresting officers’ statements, and cited lack of physical evidence for the acquittal. “The forensics guys couldn’t produce a dirt sample with urine traceable to the suspects. Apparently a lot of people stop at the aqueduct to pee. It’s not just a political thing,” said the jury foreman.Hawk family members accompanied them to the courthouse to hear the verdict and flanked them as they exited the courthouse to the cheering of perhaps a dozen supporters.