The thing is even if what they were trying to put across was true it isn’t illegal. Stalking has become the fad crime of
the current times. It’s almost as if in order to be somebody you have to have one or more stalkers. In this the law
has been twisted and now anyone can be a stalker. A teenager with a simple crush can be accused of the crime if
he chooses to sit near a pretty girl in class or watches her in the school cafeteria. How many times have we heard
of a young boy or girl following the object of their affection home after school to find out where he or she lives? The
current precedents are set so that in real life, Charlie Brown would be guilty of stalking the Little Red-Haired Girl and
it could result in jail time. Stalking is willful, malicious, repeated behavior intended to frighten, annoy, or harm an
individual. Having a fixation or obsession with an individual out of affection is not stalking but has been interpreted
as such lately by the courts. Just because the “victim” feels uncomfortable does not make the actions illegal, the
person in question has to be intending on making that person uncomfortable. If the “victim” tells the individual to go
away and that request is ignored that can be considered stalking but the request must be there. Along with the
abuse of the law in this case came something almost as disturbing, the effect and abuse of status by a celebrity.
Just to get the idea across, I’ll explain Shannon Miller’s status in Oklahoma where the whole incident occurred.
Shannon is far and away the most accomplished of any United States gymnast, a two time gold medalist and a two
time world champion along with a slew of other Olympic and world championship medals. She has achieved such
popularity in Oklahoma that there has been Shannon Miller days, a highway named for her, a park, an eighteen foot
bronze statue (the largest in the entire state) along with numerous other dedications and awards directed towards
her. It’s then understandable that I had about as much chance of getting a fair trial as I would sprouting wings and
flying to the moon. You can also see how the DA, Tim Kuykendall, would jump at the opportunity to get some cheap
publicity for an upcoming election. The Oklahoma media and the tabloids were gobbling this up.
The big thing here was that the prosecution was trying to make me look like an erotomaniac which is someone with
a psychotic obsession on an individual, usually a celebrity, which turns into false love and a feeling of it returned.
The erotomaniac doesn’t stop, the usually thoughts are “She really does love me it’s just that her agent wouldn’t
want her with a nobody like me because it would damage her career.” The problem the prosecution had was that
even if I was an erotomaniac, so what? They had to prove that I was trying to frighten or harm her. This would blow
up in their faces (the fact that I’m writing this alone should tell you I’m not! If I was an erotomaniac I would be too
concerned about the damage this could do to her.)
My mom came home with an E-mail that she had gotten from Terry. Tim Kuykendall was now willing to grant a
deferred sentence. His conditions were reasonable, that I be examined by a forensic psychiatrist and if he finds me
not a danger to Shannon a deferred sentence would be acceptable. The only thing that bothered me was that they
were trying very hard to get me to go with a state psychiatrist whom, they said, would be free of charge. At that
point I didn’t trust anything representing the state of Oklahoma. Terry already wanted me examined anyway. He
was arranging to have me tested by Dr. William Logan of Kansas City, a renowned forensic psychiatrist who had,
among his long list of credentials, given his services for a number of years to the secret service in examining people
who had threatened the president.
“If the state psychiatrist examines you his report is public and the DA gets it right away.” Terry said later that night
on the phone “Now if Dr. Logan examines you and finds something that we don’t want them to know, we never have
to present his report.” I had been examined already by two competent mental health care professionals in the last
few weeks and I already knew that no one would honestly find anything wrong with me. What worried me was that
the Oklahoma psychiatrist would have been, at best, biased. At worst he would have had Tim Kuykendall in his ear.
“I know you’re worried about finances but this really is the best way to go” he said and I agreed. “This could end
this.” I hoped so. The trip to Kansas City and Dr. Logan’s fee would be all but the end of my savings. We made the
plane reservations and found a hotel. Dr. Logan was to have a run down of everything, the police reports, the list of
evidence, Xerox copies of the drawings and so on. I gathered a backpack full of various sports memorabilia and
some of the stories I had drawn to counter that and back what I was saying.
A few weeks later I arrived in Kansas City. As I was still a wreck my mother came along to give me a hand. We
arrived on a Saturday but the examination wasn’t until the coming Monday so I had a whole weekend to stew in my
own juices. We tried to distract ourselves as much as possible. Mom wasn’t too happy either as you might imagine.
We explored the city, drove around the outskirts a little, and visited the rather astonishing Kansas City zoo for most
of Sunday. That I really enjoyed, and it did get my mind off of things when we came into the Australia section and
walked right into a group of kangaroos. At first I thought that we accidentally came through a gate into a cage or
something but when the kangaroos just looked at us and went about their business we realized that they were
allowed to just roam free. The park was astonishingly large and we were able to spend about six hours there. As we
got there first thing in the morning, we were able to avoid the Sunday crowd up until the very end. No drunks or
screaming kids, it was very relaxing. The sun was also coming up and a mist was about the park and the animals.
How about that, the guy that the state of Oklahoma was saying is a dangerous psychopath was spending his free
time at a Zoo with his mother!
The next morning we got up and I got ready for my examination. I wasn’t at my best as I had only been able to get
around five hours sleep total the last two nights. I didn’t take my Xanax as I wanted Dr. Logan to see exactly what
this entire experience had been doing to me. We went to breakfast and I looked for the biggest meal on the menu. I
guess you can kind of look at it like the last meal of a condemned man. It made sense, this examination could
determine my future. After having everything torn from me what would I have to look forward to in prison? How
would I keep going? This was it, if I said or did the wrong thing it could mean the end of my life. A fair trial was
impossible and I was counting on the deferred sentence.
We got to Dr. Logan’s office fairly early. I’ve never felt uncomfortable in elevators before as some do but on the
way up to the twenty-sixth floor I felt as if the walls were coming in about to crush me. After a wait of only a few
minutes I met Dr. Logan. His look and attitude made me more comfortable. It wasn’t what I expected from a
psychiatrist who specialized in criminal behavior. He had a relaxed, friendly nature. He stood around average to
below average height, balding, an abdomen which showed he enjoyed life, and was smoking a pleasant smelling
We went into his office and sat down. He was leaned back in his chair behind his desk with a notepad with me
across from him leaning forward, nervously. The examination had the attitude I expected. Kind of like a police
interrogation, frightening, but understandable. His job was to determine if I was obsessed and dangerous and he
had to be thorough. We started off with what Dr. Logan described as a “This is Your Life” segment, going back from
when I was a little kid leading up to when I met Shannon. We went into great detail on that, our relationship, how I
felt about her, and so on. I tried my best to be as up front and as thorough with him as possible except at one
point. I didn’t deny anything from the night before the accident I just said I was so drunk I didn’t remember. I didn’t
want to give the DA any ammunition to encourage him to take this to trial and the phone calls and the foil were big to
them. I wasn’t ashamed of the calls, they were just as I said, my mother knew about them and so did my brother Jim
in Florida. The prosecution was just making a big deal about them. The foil I was ashamed of and I didn’t want
anyone close to me to know that I had done such a stupid thing. I was highly embarrassed over that and my
reasoning was “All they want is a psychological profile of me and this is over, why embarrass my family over it.” But
other than that I was bare-all honest. I drug up much of my and my family’s dirty laundry, exposing all of my
weaknesses and fears. I didn’t hide embarrassing childhood trauma’s, I didn’t hide my current deficiencies. I’m
insecure and need reassurance. I’m afraid of trusting people and when you get down to it out of all the people in my
life I only consider a handful true friends.
After four hours we took an hour-long lunch break. Even though it was cold with a good solid rain, I needed to go
for a walk. I stopped in a small bar and grill and had a sandwich and a bowl of soup, but other than that, I just
wandered around with my hood up and head down. When I got back the receptionist asked me how I spent the
time. I told her and she seemed a little surprised that I had wandered around in such weather. “Most of the
patients just want to get out of the office for a little bit and relax.” she said. “Did it help?”
“Yeah, since I quit boxing I’ve got a lot of pent up energy. It’s made me kind of a pacer. I don’t sit still very well.” It
was then that I realized just how nerve-racking that job must be. Here I was falsely accused of a misdemeanor.
Compared to some of the murder-one suspects that must come in, I had to have been a pleasant relief.
With all my energy and not be able to sit still for long the next half of the exam was sheer agony. I spent three and
a half hours taking various personality tests. One had over five hundred and seventy-five questions! My legs and
back were stiff from staying seated for so long and my eyes felt like they were going to fall off. Dr. Logan ran the
tests through the machine and asked me about a couple of specifics. “It says you have a sign of paranoia and
specifies a question were you said that you feel like you’re the target of a conspiracy. Does that have to do with
your legal charges?”
“Well yeah, of course. I mean, I am a target here. They wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t Shannon and they seem
intent on ruining my life for no reason. I don’t think that you’re paranoid if people really are out to get you.”
He agreed, no problem there. We talked about the examination for a while I found out what I knew already and
had already been told by other’s who had examined me. I’m not obsessed with and show no signs that I could be!
There’s nothing seriously wrong with me. He did say that I have a little bit of social immaturity that I needed to work
on in therapy, but that was it. Okay, I couldn’t argue with that. It’s very hard for me to ask a girl out even if she was
to jump up and down, holding a sign asking me to. So I agreed with him totally.
I called my mother to pick me up and waited in the lobby of the huge building. When she got there we were both
exhausted. She couldn’t do much due to the weather all day but sit and read. But still, having me being examined
like that must have been hell on the nerves. I told her how things went and we decided, as tired as we were, that we
had to celebrate the exam being over, and probably, the whole mess. We found a really nice Creole restaurant in a
city guide and headed over. Nice hot, spicy, blacken catfish, crawdad pies, and New Orleans crabcakes all, as
Emeril Lagasse would put it, kicked up a notch. A good ending to a rough few days.
Now all I could is wait. Nothing else could happen until Dr. Logan finished his report. As I didn’t know when I would
have to leave town next there wasn’t a whole lot I could do outside of the house. I kept myself busy, landscaping the
yard, building furniture, taking care of the house, cooking the meals, working out as hard as I could, Still I wasn’t
leading the life that I should have been. I needed all of this out of the way so I could start rebuilding. All I needed
was the deal for the deferred sentence to be finalized so I could go out to Oklahoma for one last time, plead no-
contest, and go home. But at least the knowledge that it was almost over had taken a great deal of pressure off of
me and I was starting to enjoy my life again.
Dr. Logan finished his report and it was what I expected. Terry got it and immediately started negotiations. At this
point Kuykendall was involved elsewhere and Terry had been dealing with a lower man on the totem pole. It was
now known that I had been examined.
While waiting I had a bit of a scare though. One early evening my parents and I were sitting in front of the TV when
a strange car came down the driveway and a very strong looking man came out. With all that had happened up
until then we jumped. My mother ran to the door and I stood back in the kitchen my heart pounding to the point
were I felt my pulse in my ears. At the screen door the man identified himself as a detective with the Fairfield,
Connecticut Police. He asked if I was still residing at that address and mother said, “Well, he’s in the kitchen. What’s
I came out and said, “I’m right here!”
The detective said “It’s nothing, I’m very sorry to bother you around dinner time. We got a call from the Cleveland
County, Oklahoma District Attorney’s office asking us to check on you to see if you were really where you said you
He seemed embarrassed by it, I said “Any idea what this is all about?”
“I have no idea,” but it was obvious he did, “here’s my card, if you have any problems at all let me know.”
That put me at ease just a bit knowing that he wasn’t looking for any chance to put me in jail but the simple
knowledge that my fears were true, that the local police were watching for me, was frightening to say the least. I
called Terry and told him what had happened.
“That’s good!” he said, “It means they’re working on it. Things should be over pretty soon then.” That was a
relief, the visit was a positive one.
The first question was did Shannon want to go through with this. It had five months, she had time to think, and the
publicity had died down. Terry told the state attorney that he felt it was time to for them to ask her directly. He
agreed, said that he would talk to her, and then never got back to us. Kuykendall became available and after a long
period of refusing to return or answer calls they finally spoke. Terry called me that day;
“Joe, Tim Kuykendall is smelling cameras. He’s now gone back on his promise of a deferred sentence and is now
saying that he only would’ve considered it. We may be able to end this still. I’m going to keep working for a
deferred but would you settle for a suspended sentence?”
That one wasn’t easy. Suspended? That’s still going to ruin my life. The problem here is that I would end up with
a record. Not to mention it wouldn’t take much for them to put me in jail. I didn’t like the idea at all. I kept having
this vision in my head of asking out a sweet, pretty girl who is very enthusiastic until she somehow finds out I have a
record for stalking. The end right there. With how easy it is to access someone’s record and look into his or her
past nowadays, that’s a pretty realistic way to look at things. Money, though, was a huge factor. Anything else and I
would have to go into my college fund, which was my lifeline to my future. I said “As a last resort, but let me know
well in advance before you even give them that idea.”
Tensions rose among my house again. I was once again a nervous wreck. We all flinched when the phone rang.
My mother began accepting what was happening but my father didn’t. He never seemed to understand until near
the point of no return. There was a lot of arguing but I guess it really was more out of frustration than anything. We
just flat out had no control. I tried not to speak of it but it had an overbearing weight on all of our lives. Sometimes it
just spilled out. As before I tried to immerse myself but nothing really stopped the oncoming terror. I knew what was
about to happen, but I just kept it to myself.
I went back into hiding at this point. I had felt that the visit from the Fairfield Detective was no longer a positive but
was a negative and a sign of things to come. I got the feeling that they didn’t send him out because they were
working on a plea but because they where building a case and wanted all they could get. I didn’t want to take the
chance of anything happening that would allow any ground for the prosecution and just didn’t go anywhere. To
make matters worse tabloid reporters began calling again and coming to the house. If I had just been in the area of
trouble it would’ve been all over the news and the prosecution would have loved it. It didn’t stop it but at least my
hiding kept things to minimum.
After a few weeks of virtual isolation from the rest of the world a few of my friends, Tommy and Marvin (not their
real names), came by concerned about me. It isn’t healthy to be a hermit and they were doing all they could to just
get me to come out for a beer. Not a big crazy night, they explained. We were just going to go to a middle-class bar
we often went to before my life went to crap and have a few. After about an hour of coaxing I nervously agreed.
After shaving off a weeks worth of growth and changing into something a little more presentable we were off.
As it was a Wednesday night the place wasn’t very crowded. We sat at the bar near a corner with me in between,
Tommy on my left and Marvin on my right. The young female bartender came to us and with a surprised look said
“Joe! Where have you been hiding?”
“My parents’ house actually.”
“I heard what happened to you, I saw it on the news. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone told me what really happened,
that’s terrible. I hope you’re doing all right.”
“As well as I can considering,” she put our beers in front of us, “Will you send me a care package of these while I’
m in jail?”
She smiled and said, “You’re not going to jail!”
We drank our beers and started talking. A few more beers and some time later we were laughing and horsing
around like we used. About this time a group of four young men and four young women came in and sat at a table
about twenty feet from us to my left. The bartender came up to us with a couple more beers and said to me “You
look so much better than when you came in I’m going to pay for a cab for you three myself, let loose and have fun.”
Later on I talked to her and found out that when I came in that night I was flushed and shaking. She said that at
first she didn’t even recognize me, she had never seen me like that before. After I started relaxing she said I just
sort of magically changed back into myself. Right about this time some of the loose talk from the group near us
started floating over and I heard, fairly loudly, “Yeah, I heard about that pervert in Oklahoma who tried to rape that
little gymnast. He’s back here, I wish I could find that bastard.”
A little earlier I saw a few of them pointing at me and saying things. I tried to put it in the back of my head by
reasoning that they probably knew me from high school. Marvin looked at me and could see my tension at this point.
“That fucking child molester,” I heard yelled out.
Marvin called the bartender over and began whispering something to her.
“Pervert!” came out from the group again.
The bartender began walking to the phone and Marvin said silently “No, not yet. Just in case.”
I interrupted in this subdued exchange and said, “No, don’t call the cops. My name will be in the report and the
media will find out about it. Let’s just leave.”
“Hey, tree jumper!” I heard to my left and I knew the phrase from listening to a Mike Tyson interview. It’s what they
call a child molester or rapist in prison.
I turned to Marvin and said “Let’s just get the hell out of here.” As I turned I saw that the guy yelling at me was less
than six feet from Tommy. I hadn’t realized it before but Tommy had been very quiet in those last few minutes. We
had been friends for a long time and I knew that when he got quiet he was ready to explode. Tommy has always
been a terrific person and friend, someone who would do anything for you, but he’s also an extreme hothead. He
only stands about five-foot six but he weighs about one hundred and sixty pounds of muscle. We met through
boxing, we had scrapped a few times and gained a mutual respect which became a friendship. His anger was
always a handicap, you can never lose your temper in the ring, and it was starting to come out here. “What the fuck’
s your problem you asshole?” he yelled.
I grabbed his arm and said “Look let’s just get out of here. It’s not worth it, at least not to me.” Tommy looked me
in the eye, calmed and smiled. He nodded and left for the door to start the car as Marvin I went to the bathroom.
We should’ve just all left and pissed along the side of the road.
We came out to Tommy in the car yelling at the group, now in the parking lot, to back off. They saw me and one
of them came striding up to me pointing his finger and yelling a bunch of garbage. Marvin got in between him and
me and I saw Tommy get out of the car, things now went in slow motion. Marvin and his assailant began grappling
and the next thing I saw was a fairly large individual grab Tommy’s left arm and waist, he got a straight right hand in
return. He staggered back two steps and dropped to his knees. Tommy ran up and hit him with his best shot, a
right uppercut (believe me, I’ve felt it) his head snapped back Tommy ran after the third male of the party who
started running up a flight of stairs on the outside of the building.
As I was watching the fourth member of the group lunged at me from my left side and started to try to wrestle with
me. I wrenched him off and, out of reflex from my years of training, pivoted to my right and fired my left hook. I felt
the pain in my bad shoulder sear up my shoulder to my neck and down my back. It was enough though. He hit his
knee on the pavement and he then backed off, I assume from never having being been hit before. I had no choice,
but the first thought in my head was “A bail violation, I’m going back to jail.”
I looked over and Marvin had his opponent’s face against the ground and was yelling, “What the fuck were you
thinking! What, did you want to make the news?! Did you want to go to jail for ten years for attacking the fucking
stalker?! What the hell’s wrong with you?!” Marvin’s normally one of the most controlled, calm people I’ve ever
known but everyone has their breaking point.
I then looked and saw Tommy coming back yelling, “That little bastard went running off down the street. At least
the son-of-a-bitch is gone.”
The owner of the bar was out at this point with two big men, bouncer’s I’d assume, and everything stopped. He
pointed over at the other group and said “You get the hell out of here and never come back. Now or I’m calling the
cops.” He then turned to me and said “Joe, you guys didn’t do anything but protect yourselves. Go home, if these
assholes call the cops get I’m behind you all the way.” No one was hurt outside of a few bruises at least.
We got in the car and took off for home. I felt sick, not just because of the possibility of bail violation but because,
believe it or not, despite all the time I spent in the boxing ring I’m not a violent person and can’t stand the idea of
getting into a street fight. Hurting someone just isn’t in my nature, not to mention a body can get killed doing
something like that. I remember Richard Pryor saying “Don’t learn to fight, learn to RUN!” When we got back I threw
up and then stayed up the rest of the night, unable to get the evening’s events out of my head. I never heard
anything else out of that so I guess if the police did come, the owner gave them the story and they wrote it off as a
stupid kid fight. It was way too much to for me to take however and I made up my mind that that was it. I wasn’t
going to go anywhere else until this was all over.
Out of desperation a lot of wild ideas came popping out of my head. One was to have Shannon’s parents and my
parents communicate. Maybe they could mediate something that would be acceptable. I figured we could start this
by having Terry contact Shannon’s agent Sheryl Shade in New York. I left that one on the back burner for future
reference while waiting to see what Terry was able to come up with.
With six weeks to go it became final. They had lured us and teased us with false hopes and now they had ripped
everything away. There was to be no plea bargain, I had to stand trial. Out of a last ditch attempt I told Terry of my
idea. He thought about it and said we might be able to do something with it. The problem came in implementing it.
Sheryl Shade wasn’t exactly being responsive. Calling her parents was out of place so Terry took the gamble and
called Shannon himself. The next morning he called us “You know I think Shannon and Tim Kuykendall should get
married. They sound so much alike.” He played the tape back;
“Hello I’d like to talk to Shannon please.”
“This is Shannon.”
“Hi Shannon, this is Terry Pierce. Do you remember me? I’m Joseph Vogt’s attorney.”
“Oh yeah, I do remember you.”
“Look, you don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to. We can hang up at any time. I’m not going to ask you
about testimony or anything like that. Joe doesn’t want to have to go to trial. He doesn’t want anymore stress on
himself or his family. We’re trying to get a deferred sentence. Do you know what that is?”
“Yeah, I know what that is.”
“Okay so you know that he won’t do any jail time and after a year it won’t be on his record...”
“No, I definitely want this on his record.”
“What for, because of the accident with your boyfriend?”
“If someone else had stood up to him before I wouldn’t be going through this now.”
Who? And for what? No one’s ever accused me of something like this? I never did anything like this. I’m so shy
around girls I have a hard time even watching pretty girls on the beach when I visit my brother in Florida. What did I
do to her? I helped her in class, befriended her, I even was willing to go to the store for her when she was sick.
Why was she doing this to me? Well, we won’t get the answers to those questions here. I still don’t know and I
doubt I ever will.
The question now came down to a blind plea or a trial. With the way things were going at least half the sentence
would be given at best on a no-contest. We were now at the point were my college money was draining as well. I
think I might have gotten one full time semester out of it and one part time but just it was still slipping away. Terry
knew this and didn’t want to throw me to the wolves. He offered a cap to his fee, which was a bare minimum. I still
couldn’t quite cover that and my parents offered to pay the rest. We had no choice. It was trial or automatic jail,
even if the judge was lenient the DA still had a reckless driving charge and I knew he would pursue that relentlessly.
They didn’t want a simple guilty verdict; they wanted me in jail.
Torn up over the excellent possibility of incarceration I went out with my long time friend Ron, an emergency
Veterinary Technician. After listening to me ramble and vent for a few hours he said what brought me to light on this
situation. “Joe, you’re at ground zero. You’ve got nothing left, what else can they do to you? You’re worried about
the trial because of the money and her influence on the jury. You’re worried about a blind plea because you know it’
s certain jail time. The money is important so you can go back to school. If you spend it you can’t go back for a
year or so, but then again if you don’t you’ll be in jail and you still won’t be able to go to school!”
I thought about it for a while and he was right. Another thing that came to mind was something that had been
bothering me for a while in this. This might become repetitive for Shannon. She just snapped her fingers and the
police came and took me away simply because something happened that she didn’t like. I couldn’t let her do this to
someone else. Even if I was convicted maybe at least it would be an unpleasant enough an experience to make her
think twice the next time around.
I think that problem here is something that my parents thought of. Shannon has basically lived her life in a
protective bubble. She’s worked very hard but she’s had people protecting her from real life the entire way. She
got into a situation that she didn’t understand and, rather than deal with it and work it out, she called the police.
Add to that Chris Phillips had lied to her about the details of the accident, at least that’s what I gathered from the
VPO transcript hearing.
What my parents felt was that after she realized she had made a mistake she had to cover herself and continue
with the trial in order to protect her reputation. Considering her reputation is that of a perfectly sweet, wholesome,
little angel that was a tall order. Just coming out and admitting that she had lied to the police would destroy that but
sticking with it, along with the fact that the Oklahoma media would protect her, would let her keep everything intact. I
guess the impact on another individual wasn’t important.
I called Terry and told him let’s do it. He dropped everything and began to prepare for my case working long
hours and weekends. His investigators started in on as much as they could, interviewing witnesses, serving
subpoenas and the like.
During this my mother and I started to gather evidence of our own. Terry wanted examples of my artwork from
when I was little on up to post-high school. We tore apart the attic and the closets finding my portfolios from high
school and the drawings I had done from the beginning. We found a good deal of them filling a good part of a Xerox
Paper box. As I was going through things I stopped and looked through the collection of things on Evander
Holyfield. The police claimed one hundred fifteen articles on Shannon and sixteen videotapes. I didn’t count all of
my Holyfield articles but there must have been over three hundred and I had almost all of his fights on tape along
with various talk show appearances and fight previews. I called Terry with this and he asked “Can you send it out
here? We have to present all our evidence ten days before the trial.”
“Yeah, I’m going to have to get some boxes and all that. This is a lot of stuff.”
“That will really help.”
My mom brought home three more Xerox Paper boxes and I filled them to the top with Evander Holyfield material. I
couldn’t get all of it in but I got a good deal of it. If I had the time I would’ve gotten together my Mark Messier
collection as well but thanks to the tactics of the prosecution we ended up with only four weeks to prepare.
Terry also wanted pictures of my parents and me and we blew the whole roll of film on a disposable camera for it.
He had intended on giving them to an expert who would advise us on how I should dress. Unfortunately he had just
moved to Ohio but Terry said we could handle it.
We arranged air tickets for my mother, my father, and myself with arrival in Oklahoma City on the Saturday before
the trial and return tickets for a week later. I just hoped for all I was worth that I would use that ticket. A rental car
was arranged, two hotel rooms in a new hotel with a Denny’s that did room service just in case the media coverage
didn’t allow us to leave. I bought a new suit, got a haircut. My brother and his fiancée were going to stay at the
house and watch the ferrets so all in all we were set to go.
Scared out of my mind that I wouldn’t see them for a while I made sure to spend time with my friends before I left.
In the last couple of weeks before the trial I went out almost every night with people buying me beer and wishing me
good luck. The general feelings, while upbeat, really didn’t seem so good. Everyone seemed very afraid for me but
refused to show that. The attitude on the surface was “Don’t talk negative, you’ll be back before you know it.” but I
could tell in their eyes they were thinking that the next time they would see me it would be after a long period of
wearing orange. As nothing else was left for my preparation I lived it up as much as I could.
The day before leaving we did a similar thing to what we did before my examination in Kansas City, we went to the
Zoo. I hadn’t seen the Bronx Zoo since I was in the fourth grade and we all had a real good time. School had just
started and even though it was a Saturday most families didn’t go. I guess the kids would be going on field trips so
they thought, “Why bother.” Ron came along and between the two of us everyone learned more than they would
have from all the guides combined! We didn’t shut up the entire time. The weather was nice and I felt pretty good.
The nagging sensation in my brain was there but I was at least able to make friends with it for one day. After about
five hours we left and went home. My brother and his soon to be met us there, as we were to go out to our favorite
seafood house that night. I picked it because it was hard enough to get good seafood in Oklahoma on a normal
basis. If I went to jail, there was no way I’d get any at all! My brother did something though that gave me some
confidence. The Rangers’ opening day at Madison Square Garden was less than a week after our return. He went
ahead and got us fourth row tickets near center ice. Very expensive and what it did was let me know that he fully
expected me to be home. I went nuts at the restaurant and ordered a large fried crawdad appetizer and a platter,
which was basically a lot of everything. The conversation was very loose and free of gloom and doom, a little
nervousness but that was it. We came home relaxed and feeling a well as we could in that situation. I did something
that night I didn’t think I’d do, I slept.
We all got up rested and nervous. We had been fully packed for a while, except for my father’s laptop, so we didn’
t have much to do except sit around. Ron arrived to take us to the airport and soon we were going down I-95 to
Laguardia. We talked the whole way. I made sure of that, the plane ride was going to be long enough I didn’t want
to start things off with us all introverted. We avoided talking of the trial and kept mostly to meaningless topics. It
was a lot better than the alternative. After what seemed to be a far too brief a period, we arrived. Ron helped us
with the bags onto the sidewalk, specifically told me that he’d see me when I got back in a week and left for home.
After the usual long, grouchy line in Lagurdia we checked all our bags but the computer and went to the gate. I
couldn’t relax and spent most of the time wandering around. At last we boarded and I was off to face my fate.
We arrived at our hotel around seven o’clock. No problems at the airport, I halfway expected the police and the
media to be there. Fortunately the airlines are pretty touchy about giving out such information. Before calling
anyone else we called Terry. As I expected he wanted to get to work right away. He said he’d be right by to pick us
up along with Marv and Sicely, the investigators.
“We’re dressing like slobs today so don’t worry, I will shave and wear a suit for the trial.”
“That’s okay when you get here just look for the guy in the denim shorts and yellow T-shirt.”
We started off by checking out the complex and seeing just how far my apartment was from Shannon’s (she had
moved out after the media blitz). It was maybe one hundred and fifty feet. I was then able to show how I started to
park nearer to Shannon’s apartment. The lot was full and that’s how it was when I started, At first it was simply
because there was no where else to park. After it seemed certain that there was more to the relationship I began
parking there intentionally. We took some pictures and later on Marv and Sicely waited until sunrise to get some
shots with the video camera.
After that we drove up to Edmond. On my computer disks were letters for my family in which I told them of how I
found out where Shannon lived. These disks were seized during the destruction of my apartment and belongings.
Terry wanted to see the route I ran that went by her house and wanted to speak with Ann, my former apartment
manager. After speaking with Ann for about a half an hour about her upcoming testimony and getting copies of the
records of my tenancy we went over the route. Terry was very surprised, he thought that it was going to take us
through a complex series of backroads and trails. Instead it was a very smooth logical route. Naturally, seeing
someone I admired was interesting but I was looking to run not star gaze! Along with that my father told him of how
he used to run that route with me when he would come out to visit and once, while I was sick, ran it by himself. All of
this was good, but when you get down to it the things that it disproved weren’t illegal and things of this nature was
what the entire case was based on.
We got back to Norman and went directly to Terry’s office. It was around eleven and no one had eaten. We
ordered some pizza and my mom and dad went to pick up some soda. Over and over we went over testimony.
Terry and Marv had warned me before hand that they were going to take me apart worse than the prosecution
would. This really was meant to see how I could handle it. At this point we didn’t know if I would testify but we had to
get the facts in order and as thorough as possible.
During our dinner break around eleven thirty we talked of what was to come and I was surprised to hear that my
old botany professor had agreed to testify. That was important. Not only did the grades in his classes (I had two
with him) prove that I came out to Oklahoma to study, but he also had my old lab reports. He had the best sense of
humor of any teacher I ever knew, and he allowed me to do them in cartoon form. He gave me perfect grades on all
of them and even handed them around class after he was through grading. They actually slowed down his work
because he liked them so much. He spent all night going over them and laughing his head off. As he liked them so
much I gave them to him and he had been since using them as models for the rest of his classes. It took a lot of
guts on his part to come out and defend me as Dr. Miller could’ve made his life miserable for it. He later told me that
he thought about it and decided that keeping me out of jail was more important than his career. I’m never going to
forget that or be able to repay that debt.
After eating we kept going over testimony and mainly got down the manner that we needed to have. If I was going
to go on the stand Terry told me to just let him set me up and direct my testimony to him as if he was the only
person in the room. “A professional witness I’d have direct a much of it to the jury but as you’ve never done this
before we shouldn’t take the chance.”
Around two it was obvious that we were all too tired to continue that night and we knocked off. Terry said “I’ll call
you around ten tomorrow and we’ll meet here. We’ll also need to go over what you’ll be wearing.”
“We brought two suits,” said my mom.
“I don’t think I want him in a suit. We want him to look respectful but not powerful.”
Sicely interjected and said “We also need to work on your eyebrows a little bit, we showed the pictures we sent to
people on the street and what we got is that they make you look very strong.” My eyebrows are slanted upwards
and long “Your mom can just shorten them up a little.”
“I’ll come in with a shaved head and wrapped in Saran-Wrap if you say so” I said.
“Why don’t you come by the hotel and you can see what we’ve got,” said my mom “Then we can know exactly what
We then quit for the night and went back to the hotel. We hadn’t even had a chance to check in at home so I
hooked up the computer and E-mailed everyone. This would turn out to be virtually the only communication we had
with anyone outside of Oklahoma the entire time. I think I got to sleep around four.
At eight-thirty the phone rang, waking me up. I fumbled around and knocked it off the nightstand. I groaned and
picked the receiver off the floor. It was Terry, he said he’d be there in an hour or so. I look at the clock and thought
“Okay, four hours sleep. I can live with that for one night.”
I got everyone up and we went for breakfast. Terry was pulling in just as we got back. He bounced out of his car
and we went up to the room to check the clothing. “What we’ll do is later on you can pick up some shirts to go with
the suit pants, that should be good.” he said and we left for his office.
We obviously were curious about Terry’s energy after working all night. After finishing at two he kept on going.
He explained to us “I usually sleep from ten-thirty to three-thirty. I’ve got myself conditioned so that during a trial I
can go without sleep the entire time and then make up for it later.” And here I thought being able to go on a few
hours of sleep a couple times a week for me was something.
We went over and over the testimony, all of ours, as my parents were to take the stand as well, and mine wasn’t
sounding all that good. It sounded canned and rehearsed, it had to sound natural. Another problem we had was
the phone calls. As I had said before I made three, maybe four between eleven thirty and one. The police gave her
a “malicious call log” and had her write them down off of her caller ID. She had written down a total of fourteen from
that night out of seventeen with a total of thirteen between two AM and three AM. The police never saw her ID. I
was home by one-thirty or two but I had no proof of that. How could I? I came in and went to sleep in front of the TV
right away. This was a problem, as we needed some form of proof that I was at home by that time. As I said before
who’s word would they believe, hers or mine?
The big problem was we couldn’t call her a liar. With her reputation and fame that would alienate the jury. That
eliminated something substantial, the police report. Here’s part of what it said:
“After returning to the Apt. she received numerous phone calls throughout the night. The phone calls were
occurring about every thirty minutes until she finally unplugged the phone around 0300 hrs.”
This was taken by Officer Roy Williams. She told them the calls came every thirty minutes yet on the log she had
them between two and three with only a few minutes between. As I looked at the sheet I also saw that she had
doubled and tripled up on some of the numbers. She also had written down a few I had never heard of. Even if I
made the calls from around twelve-thirty to three as she was claiming there was no way I could’ve made that many
every thirty minutes in that amount of time. It would have gone on until around six-thirty. I have the call log and the
police report, that’s exactly what’s in it. From exactly 2:19 until 3:06 she has ten calls, and one at 12:46 before
them, contradicting what she told police.
I said to Terry “So what anyway, I’m charged with stalking not for making prank calls. It was only one night and it
says in the statute that the behavior had to be repeated.”
“Yeah, but the prosecution is going to try to convince the jury is that doing all those calls even in that short period
counts as repeated behavior. They want to say that in order to interrupt a night of passion you made all those calls
to be annoying.”
“So if it was one call it wouldn’t be stalking. But one call really can’t count as annoying. How can that count as
prank calls unless you do a bunch of them so then it’s not really repeated unless I did it night after night.”
“You’re right, but we have to remember it’s Shannon Miller and we never know what the jury is thinking. They
might be looking for anything to convict you.”
It was then that we came to the conclusion that I had to take the stand. The jury had to hear the reason why I
called and what my state of mind was. I just had to be careful not to say that Shannon was lying. We’d figure some
way around that. Along with that the thing is that the prosecution was going to portray me a sick, deranged, violent,
lunatic. Even with Dr. Logan testifying to the contrary the jury had to hear me and get to know me to totally refute
their claims. The big problem in all this was that while the law says that I’m innocent until proven guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt in this case it was the opposite. The burden of proof was on us and we had to show innocence
beyond ANY form of a doubt. It was the influence of a celebrity on a jury of common people. That’s happened in
the past in cases that I won’t dredge up here but I think you can probably think of some!
Around twelve thirty, one o’clock we were tired and a little hungry. Terry said, “Look, while we get something to
eat let’s save you guys a trip and get some clothes. There’s a place called ‘Harold’s’ near the center of town.”
We went down there, got some food, and went to get clothes. Just walking in I could tell that this was going to be
expensive. We started with the pants, having me measured for alterations. I tried on a pair and went into the back
room where they pinned off the areas to be changed. We did this with a few other pairs while everyone else was
picking out shirts, shoes, a belt and everything else I would need.
I came out and acted like a mannequin, allowing them to do whatever they wanted, going in and out of the
dressing room trying things on and coming out. While I was doing that they picked out more and more things. It
seemed like the whole store was focused on me. Well, most of the staff was anyway. One of the guys helping us
was helping me out with the shoes and was naturally curious “It looks like your getting ready to do something like a
four day presentation.”
“No,” I said “nothing that pleasant.”
Marv and Sicely got there and gave their approval. They had been out serving subpoenas all day. We had been
there about two hours and like I said, the place was expensive. I think the bill came up to around eight hundred and
fifty bucks! Okay, well at least I would look good as everyone tried to make me look bad.
We went back to Terry’s office and spent a few more hours going over testimony. We focused on my running
route in Edmond and as it was a very logical one it was pretty easy to get through. There wasn’t anything wrong
with it anyway, just another thing that the prosecution was going to try to warp to make me look bad. It was around
ten o’clock and enough for one day. Monday I wasn’t needed and it was the only day I would have off. Outside of
going over to “Harold’s” for the altered clothes we didn’t have anything else to do. Sleep, I could catch up on sleep!
That would turn out to be the only good night’s sleep I’d get.
That morning I woke up late and we went to a restaurant where we made pigs out of ourselves at a breakfast
buffet. We picked the clothes and then had nothing else to do. My father and I went for a run but it being mid-
afternoon, and eighty-five with the sun bearing down so we didn’t stay out that long. I went down to the pool and did
about fifty laps. When I got back Terry had called. One of the big concerns was out of the way, the reckless driving
charge. It had been dismissed, there was nothing to show it was anything but what I had said it was, an accident.
That was a relief, it was going to be the prosecution’s back up. If they couldn’t put me in jail for stalking they were
going to use that. This was the first good news I’d had in this whole ordeal. Some bad news came that day though,
but it had nothing to do with the trial. Florence Griffith Joyner had died. I admired her a great deal and this was a
shock to me. She deserved more of a reaction from me but under all of that stress I was under I didn’t have
anymore room in myself for one.
We didn’t have the whole day off though, after Terry got back we went over testimony some more. He warned me
that it was going to drive me nuts and he was right! Over and over and over. Jury selection was to be at nine the
next morning and we had to be at the office at least by eight thirty. We finished a little after ten and went back to the
hotel. Here it was, about to get going. Naturally, I didn’t sleep much.
Copyright 1999 Joseph Vogt