By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
At first the mother, Virginia, used a Polaroid but was in such a state that she was unaware the photos were pouring out of the bottom of the camera and onto the ground. (The day before the incident she'd been rushed to St. Joseph's emergency room with dangerously high blood pressure, 230/104, where she remained for six hours. At the time of the brawl she was heavily medicated.)
Dains picked up the Polaroid snapshots while dragging Darlene along. Then, when the police arrived, Pete Span claims Marshal Dains grabbed the roll of film from his shirt pocket that had captured the initial confrontations. With the heel of his boot, Dains allegedly ground the canister into the dirt, breaking it open and ruining the negatives.
When Dains attempted to seize Pete's camera with the partially used roll of film, the former track star ran from the scene.
With both Darlene and Jerry in separate Phoenix squad cars and Pete in full retreat, Marshals Grotewold and Dain together with Officer Jenkins approached Virginia.
"The tall marshal was swinging her arm wildly to get the camera off which she had tied to her wrist," said Darlene. "She was thrown to the ground at one point and I just started screaming, `Stop! Stop! My mom just came from the hospital. You have to stop him. It will kill her. She was just in the emergency room.'"
Watching his mother from the back of the squad car, Jerry Span became enraged and kicked a dent in the screening. Later, he would be charged with destruction of police property.
All of the Spans claim the marshals made repeated efforts to seize and destroy the photos of the assault. The family took the pictures to document the outrageous behavior of the officers; ironically, the prints that survived helped convict Darlene and Jerry.
TWO UNITED STATES marshals attempted to pick up an armed and dangerous fugitive and by the end of the day Virginia, Jerry, and Darlene Span were in jail. The fugitive was still at large. Later, Span sibling Mickey Michael, accompanied by an attorney, went to the marshals and produced identification proving that he was not the escapee Dains and Grotewold sought.
The only question that lingered, a question that would take two years to make its way through the courts, was who assaulted whom?
Cynics know that blood is thicker than water, that a family like the Spans was raised to look out for its own. And it's not unheard of for partners in law enforcement to cover for each other. So whom do you believe? How do you decide?
Unlike at any other crime scene you might be aware of, the marshals and the police did not interview any of the witnesses standing nearby. During the trial, prosecutor Ivan Mathew did not put a single civilian eyewitness on the stand.
Kerrie Rodgers was standing just a couple of feet away from the marshals when they confronted Darlene and then her brother. A 38-year-old electrical contractor who doesn't know the Spans, Rodgers was a defense witness.
In a recent interview, Rodgers was adamant that the marshals attacked the Spans.
"I didn't know they were marshals," said Rodgers. "At first I thought it was just a bad business deal. Really, Darlene and her brother were just standing there. The marshals were saying, `Go get him [Mickey Michael]. We know he's in the house.'
"They said, `He's not here.'
"This paper was passed back and forth, then Darlene and Jerry turned to walk away. They had their backs turned to the marshals when the marshals blindsided them. Darlene and Jerry never knew what hit them.
"The marshals yelled, `Get back here. We're still talking to you,' type of thing."
Rodgers insisted that neither of the Spans ever hit either marshal.
"She was thrown face-first into the fence. They both fell into the fence and then down to their knees.
"The marshals kept raising their voices. She said we can't help you anymore. These people were unduly harmed. They didn't provoke nothing."
Another customer that day for building supplies was 59-year-old Helen Brock, who'd retired from Honeywell Computer Systems where she'd been a group leader in quality control and now operates a transmission shop with her son.
Reached by phone, Brock was still outraged by what she witnessed on the afternoon of April 7, 1988. Referring to her cross-examination by government prosecutor Ivan Mathew, the still- irritated Brock declares, "We're not dummies and we ain't stupid.
"These two gentlemen come up and appeared to be shoppers like the rest of us. When the incident happened, I was within three or four feet waiting to be waited upon by Darlene.
"She said to the two men, `Can I help you?'
"I thought the paper they handed her was a list of materials. I heard her say, `No, I don't know who you're looking for.'
"They insisted she did. They said it was her brother. The tall guy was the one who got irate at first. Told her she was a liar, that she had to go get him. They knew he was in the house.