Thursday, December 30, 2010

Get Off My Lawn!

CHICAGO - A Chicago area man who killed a neighbor whose dog urinated on his lawn was sentenced today to four years' probation.

"This is not justice," said Gail Williams, the slain man's aunt.

Charles Clements, 69, a great-grandfather, former Marine and retired truck driver who took great pride in his lawn's appearance, could have been sentenced to as much as 20 years.

In declining to send Clements to jail, Will County Judge Daniel Rozak noted the episode was Clements' first contact with the legal system in his 69 years.

He also said the slaying wasn't about a dog urinating on a lawn, but "about your reaction ... to being yelled at, pushed and punched in the face by a 23-year-old man"

The Will County state's attorney's office, which had asked for jail time, indicated it would not appeal the sentence. "He (Rozak) is an excellent judge and we respect his decision," prosecutors said in a statement.

Clements had apologized for his actions at a sentencing hearing that was interrupted last week when the slain man's mother began to hyperventilate in court.

A Will County jury convicted Clements of second-degree murder in October.

Joshua Funches, 23, was walking his fox terrier puppy when Clements confronted him after the dog urinated on his manicured lawn.

After Funches cursed at him, Clements pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and put it back in his pocket. Soon after, Funches punched Clements once in the face. Clements said Funches was standing still when he pulled out his gun and fatally shot him.

Funches had three small children, including a boy born after his death. Patricia Funches, his mother, had asked Rozak to sentence Clements to the maximum 20 years in prison. Clements had been free on bond pending his sentencing.

Clements' attorney, Daniel Collins, said he was "very satisfied" with the sentence, as were Clements and his family.

"They're very thankful to the judge," he said.

Clements will meet with his probation officer to see if he will be allowed to move out of University Park, Ill., he added.


Brian said...

Definitely one of those cases where the devil is in the details.

If you brandish a gun in a verbal confrontation (which is itself a pretty questionable course of action, at least as described here), and the other guy punches you *after* that, I think a reasonable argument can be made that the other guy is crazy/aggressive/not to be reasoned with, and you might conclude that you are in immediate physical danger. I'm guessing that was part of the judge's reasoning here.

Some people *really* can't handle being called out, particularly males aged 16-25.

Gino said...

and the storty doesnt say in what manner the cursing took place that caused the gun to come out.
he may have been overly aggressive, inches from his face, i'm gonna kick yerass, kinda cursing, which is what i think happened.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Letting your dog urinate on someone's lawn and then insulting them for being peeved about it is pretty low rent. The guy didn't deserve to die for the offense, but in a just society he'd certainly be rebuked (by neighbors, relatives, law enforcement, etc...) There's also the element of disrespecting your elders. It's hard to summon up much sympathy for him.

tully said...

Gino: In that case, shoot him in the leg. I'm afraid this is just murder.

Gino said...

did you two bleeding hearts read in the story where the old guy was physically assaulted???

tully said...

Ah, yes. You are right. My apologies for my haste.

RW said...

yeah we know the area this happened in. It's right over there---->

Funny how this was reported as time went on. If you read the initial news reports it looked like some over-wrought, anal, mean old man callous enough to kill someone over his lawn. That was what it looked like in the local media here this summer.

And it hasn't been until just the last few days that *all* the details came out, and then only in explanation of the verdict & sentencing as in the story you quoted... which I doubt most people around here will read and therefore will still consider the old guy a crank until forever.

It isn't that I think the "press" works an agenda (the idea that it is biased one way or the other goes against the facts that it's *biased* only when it calls out whoever you support at the moment), I don't, but I think they're pretty incompetent and stupid. That I truly do believe. And if this isn't a prime example i don't know what would be.

(inb4 what'shisname: "No RW you're wrong, the press is supremely biased and blah blah blah blah... lol)

Gino said...

and where was the editor?
i understand the need to headline a hook to a story. as bloggers, we do it all the time.

but, i also know that i have readers who will call me out (or call me names) for leaving something significant out of the picture.

and nobody was 'there---->' to point out the missing facts, a witness, police report maybe?
damn. your press is worse than ours.
you see, here in OC, our press also includes the public, who will flood the letters to the editor with corrections.

the OC Register doesnt get away with many mistakes. its not allowed to.

Mr. D said...

I'm surprised he didn't go to jail, actually. You can argue self-defense, but the act of brandishing the gun in the first place considered assault in and of itself in most places.

RW said:

It isn't that I think the "press" works an agenda (the idea that it is biased one way or the other goes against the facts that it's *biased* only when it calls out whoever you support at the moment), I don't, but I think they're pretty incompetent and stupid. That I truly do believe.

That's the smart way to bet in most cases, especially in a story like this. One of the sillier things we do is call journalism a profession. Throughout history, most "journalists" have been scriveners, really.

Gino said...

You can argue self-defense, but the act of brandishing the gun in the first place considered assault

brandishing in response to what? the article says he was cursed at, but has left out what threats of malice was delivered through the curses, and this would justify the gun coming out in self defense.

rarely does a physical assault follow a simple and passing 'fuck you' delivered from the sidewalk.

RW said...

gino - most people in this area, you probably don't recall, are oblivious, used to authoritarians, and look upon people who go against the flow as dangerous.

Mr. D said...


Here's what I mean -- you hear the term "assault and battery" all the time, but they mean two different things. Assault can be simply making a threatening gesture. Battery is the act of striking someone else.

You will see people arrested, tried and convicted for simply brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner. If a prosecutor is sufficiently zealous, you can be charged with assault for saying "I ought to kick your ass" and then taking a step toward that person.

As a practical matter, if Funches hadn't been killed, he could have been charged with assault (for the verbal abuse) and battery (for punching Clements in the face).

The thing is, the terms are often used interchangeably, which is why people get confused. A prosecutor knows the difference, though. And a cop should, too.

Gino said...

RW:the chicago area, you mean? or is it a upper midwest thing?

RW said...

Chicago area. You are either/or.

You stand there and say "the government is too involved in our lives" and most people roll their eyes and tell you to get real. Quit the shit and pay attention to real stuff like your kids and your job.

Or start questioning what you see on the TV and read in the paper and the question you get (from both the "pros" and your neighbors) is "so when did YOU get your journalism degree from the Medill School at Northwestern?"

I've noticed it for years. The reason President Obama is seen as more legit here than in some parts of the country is simply because he got elected. Fait accompli, therefore he must be right.

Add that in with casual, latent black-hating bigotry to the point of being ridiculous and welcome to the city with broad shoulders...

Mr. D said...

RW: your observations are 100% correct. I noticed that attitude as well when I lived in the Chicago area in the late 80s-early 90s. Especially the "get real" stuff. The local politicians, especially the aldermen, might as well have been professional wrestling characters. The stance was, "what will that crazy Dorothy Tillman do next," or if the person you were talking to had consumed a few adult beverages, "what will that crazy n****r Dorothy Tillman do next."

Since I'd grown up elsewhere, this sort of thing always drove me nuts, but after a while I learned that there was no point in even talking about political malfeasance because it seemed like no one wanted to think about it. When I was back in Chicago earlier this year for a week-long visit with some friends of ours, nothing had changed.

Gino said...

OK, so all along i thought it was just the way some my cousins (certain segments) thought.

Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

Whatever happened to, "respect your elders." SHEESH!