Page 7 of 9

"He grabbed hold of her arm, on the biceps. The camera strap was wound around her wrist. She never swung at them. Her only movement was to protect the camera. It was like a tug of war. As it progressed, it got more bizarre. They were grabbing at her from both sides. The Phoenix cop also grabbed her. One time, she collapsed. She's an old woman, not in the best of health. They very definitely manhandled her, twisted her arm behind her back, grabbed her around the neck with a choke hold. It wasn't called for. There was no reason to do it. Everything was under control. They'd already subdued Jerry and Darlene. There were half a dozen people standing around them. She was under a doctor's care and very ill. They could have handled the situation and calmed things down and then got the camera."

Tom Owens' family has run a machine shop near the Span property since the late Forties. Although he isn't friends with them, he says the Spans are honest, aboveboard, never try to drive you to your knees over business.

"They're meek as lambs, really. You can't imagine Jerry jumping police officers."

Owens came on the scene after both marshals had Jerry and Darlene in choke holds.

"As Virginia would take pictures, the Polaroids would flip onto the ground. The tall one would pick them up, dragging Darlene with him. The mother was in kind of a daze."

Owens saw Marshal Dains stomp Pete's initial film canister.
"I saw the canister of film on the ground but the end was broken off."
What Owens saw next shocked him.

"The fact that these marshals could have been that brutal to such a feeble, defenseless woman. She was not being abusive. She never got close enough to touch anyone. She's elderly, in her seventies with no teeth. She kind of screeches when she talks. If you ever talked to someone with no false teeth, you'd know. She was crying, `Those are my children, don't hurt my children.' She's feeble as hell to begin with. They did not need to maul her. Instead, one marshal tried to jerk her arm out of its socket trying to get the camera. The fat one held her while Dains tried to rip the camera out of her arms."

At first Grotewold held up his hand with a puncture wound, yelling that Virginia should be arrested because she'd bitten him. Virginia pointed out that she had no teeth.

The Spans believe Grotewold's hand was bitten by their father's dog. In his arrest report, Grotewold said he was bitten by Jerry Span.

On Saturday, March 3, 1990, twelve jurors found Jerry and Darlene Span guilty of assaulting U.S. marshals and resisting arrest.

Incredibly, five jurors believed it was the marshals who attacked the Spans, but because of Judge Robert Broomfield's instructions to the jury, they felt they had no choice but to convict.

From the bench, Broomfield told the jurors: "Federal officers engaged in good faith and colorable performance of their duties may not be forcibly resisted even if the resister turns out to be correct, that the resisted action should not, in fact, have been taken. The statute requires him to submit peaceably and seek legal redress thereafter."

In other words, no matter what the marshals did, Judge Broomfield's reading of the law is that the Spans' duty was to submit like sheep.

"I was one of the jurors who believed the Spans," said Sally Osborne, 31, who works as a planner at an aviation-equipment manufacturer. "The pictures they took convicted them of resisting, but I felt it was very untrue what the marshals said. I didn't believe the marshals whatsoever. What constitutes assault included resisting, according to our instructions.

"I left the trial just sick. I could not sleep. Most of us felt it was very unfair. I do feel a major injustice was done."

Juror Robert Hapip was so upset that he took the unusual step of contacting the defense attorneys, who generated an affidavit that five of the jurors signed in an effort to overturn the conviction.

"Given the instructions, we had to find them guilty," said Hapip, a 37-year-old consultant to banks on software for financial planning. "We thought the marshals were so well-rehearsed. It was so canned, we didn't believe it. We thought they were both pretty slimy guys.

"There was nothing to support that Jerry jumped them. Jerry never came off as that kind of guy. We think they attacked the Spans, without question. We believed the witnesses.

"Dains is frightening. He has no business in the marshal's office. He sat there and grinned in court over the names he used. Most of us were upset we couldn't indict the marshals for anything."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey