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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.

"She said, `I'll tell you what; if you give me that sheet, I'll make some copies.'

"This really irritated them. Darlene had called this other man [Jerry] over. Maybe you can help. She read it to him 'cause he can't read.

"She gave the paper back and basically said there's nothing more we can do for you. They turned around, turned their backs and came towards the customers. When they turned their backs, it was like a bomb exploded.

"I was scared. I thought someone was being kidnaped or going to be killed . . . The skinny guy grabbed her by the hair, shoved her into the fence. He broke his glasses, she fell to her knees and he fell forward into the fence.

"Darlene and Jerry is little people. It was just unreal.
"All I could think of was they were going to kill them. She's screaming at the top of her lungs, `Call the police. Call the police.'

"These men shouted, `Don't you walk away' or `Don't you turn your back' or something to that effect. `Don't you leave.'

"They were offended."
"I left and called 911 from Smitty's."
By the time the police arrived, two men who owned nearby businesses had joined the crowd.

Don Malody owned a sign shop across the street. He saw Marshal Dains grab the roll of film from Pete Span's shirt pocket and crush it with his boot.

"The canister was bent and one end was popped off. It was smashed," said Malody.

Span's roll of film had captured the opening moments of the fight.
Malody was more alarmed by what happened to the mother, Virginia.
"I'd have tried to kill them if it had been my mother. All she was doing when I walked across the street was standing, watching and occasionally taking a picture."

When Dains demanded that Virginia give up her camera and film, she refused.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey