By Monica Alonzo
By Ray Stern
By New Times Staff
By Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Robrt L. Pela
"Tuna fish and vegetables is what I eat," he says. "You can have $100 and live off that for three months. Six thousand dollars? Man, I can live off that for a year and a half."
He committed to the job. "Once I said I was going to do it, there was no turning back," he says. He went to the Spy Headquarters store in Mesa and purchased a 21-inch collapsible metal baton, a tool that can crunch down to a pocket-size tool and has no purpose other than as a truncheon.
When he left for Detroit, Stant told Leslie that he and Smith had been hired to keep an eye on Tonya Harding, because Gillooly thought she was cheating on him. Then, after the job was done, Stant told Leslie that once Jeff had arrived in Detroit, they were no longer needed, and he came home and watched the national skating championships with her. It was understood that Stant would soon be returning to Oregon in his new bodyguard job, which would last at least through the Olympics.
Stant has read that he carried a camera and media credentials at Cobo Arena to gain access to restricted areas. He did not. He simply walked past the security guards as if he knew where he was going, two days in a row. He would turn his face, figuring that it's hard to identify someone without seeing his eyes. He'd make his mind blank, so that no one would pick up on his vibes. Only once did anyone ask what he was doing backstage, and he earnestly replied that another security guard had pointed him in that direction to find the bathroom. The guard let him pass.
He measured the back and forth of the camerapeople and security personnel, figured who would be where and when. As Kerrigan stepped off the ice, he stayed out of view until a TV cameraman swept by in hot pursuit of her. As he passed through the curtain that blocked the light from the passageway into the arena, Stant snapped the baton to its full length. Then he fell in step behind the camera.
Later, when he saw the TV images of Nancy coming off the ice, he was startled. "It almost seemed like it was through my eyes, because I was half a foot behind the guy," he says.
When the cameraman set down his camera, Stant slipped around and struck Kerrigan on the lower leg, and because he kept moving, he never really saw her go down. Down the hall, the doors he'd seen open the day before when he'd cased the arena were now chained and locked. So he lowered his head beneath the crash bar and put his shoulder to the Plexiglas. It split with the impact, and he stepped out into ten inches of new snow.
A female reporter who had been interviewing Kerrigan when Stant struck then started screaming for someone to stop him. A man on the sidewalk outside moved to do so, then came to his senses and backed off, but Stant bowled him over, anyway, and rolled him into the curb.
Smith was moving with traffic, driving so as not to attract attention. Stant jumped into the rented car, and the two drove wordlessly in circles until they felt sure no one was tailing them. Then they returned to their hotel.
In a recent made-for-TV movie, the characters portraying Stant and Smith whooped and high-fived when they reached the car. In reality, Stant says, the two rode silently and grim-faced, and a half-hour later, when they were in their room, Smith finally spoke.
"Is the job done?" he asked, and Stant answered, "Yes."
This was theatre of the absurd played out on TV. Almost as soon as they were back in the hotel room, the heart-rending images of Nancy Kerrigan weeping and screaming, "Why?" in the hallway beneath Cobo Arena were playing on the screen. Stant knew already that he had done something monumentally stupid.
"Then I saw her father pick her up and carry her out," he says, "and that really had an effect on me, because I was never close to my father. I had thought I could talk myself into blowing it off, but I started putting people I love--my fianc‚e, my mother, my sisters--in the picture. That's when it became more real."
He and Smith told themselves that neither would have done it if the other one had admitted that he didn't want to. They'd sat in silent manliness, convincing one another they couldn't let the other one down.
On January 14, Stant was watching TV again when he learned of Smith's arrest. He was eating dinner at a restaurant in Los Angeles, where he had gone to work out with martial arts friends, and the TV was on, soundless, but he knew instantly from the picture what had happened: Eckardt had confessed and implicated the two of them.
Smith surrendered immediately, because, Stant says, he was afraid that he or his family might be shot if police decided to raid their Ahwatukee home and take him by force. Merrill claims Smith was also afraid that if police searched his house, they'd find two fully automatic AR-15 assault rifles stashed under a bed.
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