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At least one of Dains' colleagues would agree with the angry jurors. On February 23, 1990, U.S. Marshal Tomas Lopez wrote prosecutor Ivan Mathew:

" . . . I have personal knowledge of [Dains and Grotewold] and their reputation for provoking assaults. I personally have been provoked by both of them. . . . This provocation has also occurred with two other deputy marshals. . . . I am writing you this letter not to state that it happened in this specific incident [the Span case], but that they do have the reputation. If asked, I would have to testify to their prior acts."

Judge Broomfield sealed Lopez's letter during the trial, preventing the jury from learning about it.

When contacted, Lopez refused to discuss the matter: "I've been told more or less not to discuss it. I got in a lot of trouble when I wrote that letter."

Some of the jurors didn't need to see the Lopez letter to know something was wrong. Five jurors--Hapip, Osborne, Laverne Knous, Marie Stehmer, and Susan Craft--signed a statement that read, in part:

"As Darlene and Jerry walked away from the two U.S. marshals, Dains approached Darlene from behind, grabbed her from behind the head, and threw her up against the fence, and Grotewold approached Jerry from behind and knocked him down to the ground;

"These actions by Dains and Grotewold were unprovoked and were done so prior to Darlene or Jerry ever having assaulted either of the two marshals;

"Thereafter, for the next approximately ten minutes Dains attempted to keep Darlene under control and Grotewold attempted to keep Jerry under control, with both Jerry and Darlene struggling to get away, until the Phoenix police officers arrived on the scene;

"The struggling described in the paragraph above by Jerry and Darlene Span consisted of wiggling and trying to get away from the respective marshals, and did not include any excessive, unreasonable or deadly force;

" . . . the legal instructions given to the jurors by the Court were such that even if the incident occurred as we believe it did, and as it was described herein, the law would require us to find Jerry and Darlene Span guilty;

"I believe such a law is completely unfair and against everything that the United States stands for;

"I do not believe Jerry and Darlene Span should have to go to jail for what occurred on April 7, 1988, because I do not believe their actions constitute a crime . . . "

On March 9, 1990, Judge Robert Broomfield reviewed the affidavits from the five jurors as part of a defense motion for a new trial.

Motion denied.
Last Sunday, Virginia Span's daughter, international model Pumpkin, came home for Mother's Day. It is unlikely the family will soon see another holiday together.

Frankly, Virginia Span is bewildered.
"I was a Catholic woman. I knew my catechism by heart. I never drank a drop of liquor in my life. I don't even drink soda. I don't understand . . . what has happened. What do I know about marshals? I've never done anything in my life."

Virginia Span's husband is dead and two of her children are about to be sentenced to jail. She has been moved off the family homestead and no one knows better than she that she will not live forever.

Virginia Span believes she even knows a little of what it will be like to pass on.

After she was taken to a jail cell on April 7, 1988, Virginia collapsed. She believes her soul left her body.

"I was in the jailhouse, on the floor. I heard them talk. I could hear one cop saying, `She's gone. She's gone. There is no pulse.' That's the last thing I heard. Seemed like I was way up high. I was falling down this big hole. I don't like to talk about this much 'cause I still get nightmares. I kept falling down this pit hole and I never hit the bottom."

Nor have Darlene and Jerry Span hit bottom yet, either. Marshals Grotewold and Dains have sued them civilly for $2 million each, a suit substantially enhanced by the conviction of the Spans.

When Virginia Span came to after collapsing in the jail, she was in the county hospital's emergency room, where one of her daughters found her on a gurney, semiconscious, muttering, "Mama, mama."

Another daughter, from out of state, came to care for her for five months.
After getting the opportunity to tell her side of the story, Virginia Span sent a message: "I want to thank you for the interview so I could finally tell someone out there about the horrors that had happened to me on April 7, 1988 and after, the worst days of my life in 74 years."

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey