I woke up and got ready, trying not to think about anything.  We went down to breakfast and I had to force it down.  I
knew I was going to need it.  My feeling was numb all the way to the courthouse in my entire body.  I walked into the
courtroom as directly as possible and sat down.  I just breathed deeply and shut my eyes, relaxing, calming myself.  I
had to wait a bit to go we had another witness who had to go immediately. It was John Carson, the witness to the
accident.
 John Carson took the oath and sat down.  He explained what happened, he said it did look like I was trying to catch
up with Chris and, as I explained before, I was.  I did a wrong thing in the foil and if something came of it I was going to
atone for it.  He said that I was just flat out going too fast and that the accident looked completely accidental and that I
had swerved to try to miss Chris’ truck.  It turned out that Mr. Carson’s career was based on automobiles, I don’t
remember what but I know it wasn’t mechanics, and that on the side he raced stock cars so he knew what he was
talking about.  If you consider I was driving a little two seat sports car and Chris was driving a truck you can see that it
would’ve been suicide to do it intentionally anyway and as Dr. Logan confirmed, I’m not crazy.
 Terry then asked him what had happened after the crash.  Mr. Carson explained to him that afterwards I was overly
apologetic to Chris, taking all blame. I kept asking him if he was okay and seemed incredibly concerned about him.  
He said he was very surprised, after the crash he thought “There’s going to be a fist fight.” Instead we were both
incredibly civil and he was amazed by both of us.  Terry asked directly if I had threatened Chris or acted threatening
in anyway. He said that I hadn’t and I was acting the opposite of what Chris had said. My mother later told me that
during Mr. Carson’s testimony Chris Phillips had been tapping on Dawson Engle’s shoulder the entire time saying
“That’s not true! That’s not true!” very upset, like a kid who was losing a game and wanted to take his ball and go
home.  He would do this again throughout my testimony.
  So now all the details of the accident Chris had given had been refuted by John Carson, who saw it and was there
until the police arrived, and Officer Malone, who had seen everything after that point.  The accident was proven to be
just that, an accident, and I was nothing less than concerned, apologetic, and friendly.
 Cross examination didn’t reveal much.  The prosecution’s basis on proving me a violent person was now completely
shot.  Instead, McDanel put together a quick weak theory on the foil, he claimed that I had done it in order to
asphyxiate Chris.  John Carson said that it was possible, albeit slim.  I don’t mean to discredit John Carson, I owe that
man a debt that can never be paid, but the chances of that happening are just about impossible.  That trick rarely
ever works in stalling the car much less causing Carbon-Monoxide poisoning. The conditions would have to be
absolutely perfect, not driving conditions, and still the chance would be as great as getting a black eye from a
stampede of wild elephants charging through your house during a hailstorm on the Fourth of July (with all due
respect to Porky Pig and Daffy Duck.)  Terry considered having my father, an engineer specializing in combustion,
explain this but figured that his being a direct relative might have the opposite effect on the jury. If I had thought of it
before hand I would have brought out one of my automechanic friends. Anyway, that was just a flimsy theory thought
up at the last second with absolutely no support.  If there was any basis I would’ve been charge with attempted
murder.  It made no difference here no matter what,  as I was charged with stalking Shannon, not Chris.  A good
indication of how silly that was is that it was the one thing the prosecution tried that the media didn’t bother with.  
 With John Carson finished, Terry called the next witness “The defense calls Joseph Vogt”  I stood up and went to
the stand.  The judge swore me in and I was so nervous I stuttered out an “I d-do” before she was even finished.  
“Calm down kid, calm down.  Don’t stammer here, they might think you’re nervous because you’re lying” I said to
myself.  I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.  “C’mon Xanax!”
 Terry started in the usual manner, my name and all that.  When he asked me were I was from I said “I moved around
a lot as a kid, all over the North East.  I’m not really ‘from’ anywhere. When people ask me that I usually say the East
Coast.”
 I told the story of how I first came to admire Shannon Miller and along with this talked of my admiration for Mark
Messier and Evander Holyfield, explaining that the articles I had on Shannon were not unique.  I went through the
basics of my life and how I spent a good chunk of my life boxing.  At this point Terry started to bring things out of our
three huge boxes of evidence.  He handed me some magazines and videotapes.  I looked at them and told him
exactly what was in the magazines on Evander and what fights were on the tapes.  He handed me some more and I
did the same.  I was trying hard to not go into too excessive detail, but it was still quite a bit of information that my
memory was pouring out to the courtroom.  I then looked at the expression on Terry’s face.  He had an amazed smile
and was nodding his head.  I realized then that he liked what he was hearing so I allowed myself too take off more on
the fights on the tapes, the details of the articles, basically giving punch by punch analysis. At a certain point, Terry
decided to save time and just started to ask me to count the numbers of articles on Evander in each magazine and
the number of fights and TV appearances on each tape. That’s good, I could have gone all night if he had let me. I
was later told that the reporters all had their mouths open and they were saying things to each other like “How in the
world does he know all this stuff?”  I was also told that among the observers it was dead obvious that Shannon wasn’t
as important to me as they were lead to believe. My professor was to testify, but he had a class that afternoon. While
I was talking away on Evander and other fighters and athletes I admired so much Terry turned to Sicely and said “Go
tell him to go ahead to his class, I don’t want to interrupt this.”
 From there we went on to how I had moved out to Oklahoma and ended up at OU.  The prosecution was trying to
give the impression that I had moved all the way out there to be near Shannon, but I explained the story in detail and
produced the information I had gathered on the schools.  We talked about how Shannon and I met and how the
relationship formed.  I went into a great deal of detail and talked about as much as could at the time.  Later on I was
told that during the previous testimony Shannon had been very animated, talking her parents, smiling, seeming very
relaxed but when I testified, particularly when I went into the details of our friendship, she sat very still. Not saying a
word, just listening.
 Terry brought out the envelope with my lab reports and I showed them to the jury.  Terry asked me to read out the
grades on them, they were all perfect.  As the reports were very funny even without the cartoons he had me read a
few outloud.  The courtroom was laughing hysterically again.  It was as if they not only found it funny but admired the
fact that I would hand in something that obnoxious.  My eyes went past Terry and I saw Shannon breaking her quiet
and laughing with a red face.
 I talked of the week and night before the accident and how much pain I was in.  I spoke of how badly I needed to talk
to the only real friend I had in the area, Shannon, but just couldn’t talk to her, how I just needed to hear that
everything was all right.  I was as straight out honest on the foil as I could be and I spoke of how I knew the next
morning just how stupid an act that was.  I explained how I meant to own up to my act of idiocy if anything happened
and how I was wondering how someone like that could beat me out for a girl.  I tried to talk of the accident as much as
I could.  The whole thing was embarrassing and I had to explain why I pretended not to remember the night before
hand to save my family embarrassment and myself.
 Terry ended direct testimony with three questions;
 “Did you ever mean to vex Shannon?”
 “No, I didn’t.”
 “Did you ever mean to annoy Shannon?”
 “No, I didn’t.”
 “Did you ever mean to frighten Shannon?”
 “No, I didn’t.”
 That was the end of direct testimony.  I had been on the stand for almost three hours and cross-examination was yet
to come.  It was already around one and the judge ordered a recess for lunch.  Sicely came up to me before we left
the courtroom and said “You were so good up there!”  Apparently, every one else agreed.  As I walked out the
cameramen and reporters were all giving me smiles.
 As he had been the entire time my father went for lunch and we waited in the conference room.  Every one was
talking about just how good I had been.  Terry was amazed at just how much I knew about sports and boxing in
particular.  He didn’t expect that.  No one did really, not even my mom. “I knew he knew a lot about all that stuff but I
didn’t realize just how much!”
 Terry talked to me about cross-examination and said “They’re going to try to rip you apart up there and get a hunk
of flesh.  It’s going to be terrible, just act like if you where boxing and you were up against the ropes.  Just cover up.” I
just tried to relax and take it easy.  I ate my lunch and felt pretty good.  
  During direct testimony I felt like I was going to start stammering and not make any sense at first, but after I got
going I felt very comfortable up there.  I just said to myself “Just relax and don’t let them rattle you.  Think everything
through before answering.”
 We went back to the courtroom and I got back on the stand waiting for things to start up again.  My mother brought
me a big cup of water just before the jurors came back and the prosecution got their shot at me. Apparently, this was
a major surprise to them, not only did they not expect me to testify but when Dr. Logan told them that I admitted to the
foil it threw their plan to make me look like a liar through circumstantial evidence completely out the window.  McDanel
started by asking me about my boxing, actually asking me, after the testimony he just heard, if I knew what a knockout
was.  I told him basically what’s in the rule books “Well, a knockdown is when one contestant is touching the canvas
with anything but his feet on the tail-end of a punch.  At that point the referee motions the other fighter to a neutral
corner and audibly announces the passing of each second as the fighter is on the canvas.  If the referee reaches the
count of ten he waves both arms to indicate that the contestant has been knocked out.  A technical knockout is a
stoppage without the referee reaching ten or even without a knockdown.  The referee, doctor, or the commissioner
can do this.  Now just say the fighter’s chief second moves in to stop...”
 He interrupted me there. “Okay, okay. Do you know what causes a knockout physically?  A concussion.”
 “Well actually no, it has to do with certain nerve endings being pinched off in most cases.  If you push up near your
temple or behind your jaw you can feel the nerves that usually get pinched in a one-punch knockout.  Oh, by the way,
the John Hopkins Medical Institute recently released a report on a study of amateur boxers and they can find no links
between amateur boxing and neurological disorder.” I think he got mad at me for that one.
 “But when you get down to it’s two people trying to hurt each other.”
 “No, not really.  No fighter wants to actually hurt his opponent.”
 “But they do damage to one another.”
 “Yes, in the spirit of competition.”
 Well, he saw that attacking my character through boxing wasn’t going to work.  He changed his approach and asked
me if I recognized a name, which I didn’t.  The name was the professor who ran a math class I had.  She had let them
know of a time that I had given an excuse to delay taking a test one day.  
 “Oh yeah, I remember that!  I was failing the class and I had two other exams that day.  I tried to get a little extra time
to study.”
 “So then it’s easy for you to lie.” he said and sucked his teeth as he had done before every question.
 “No sir, it isn’t.”
 “But you were able to lie to your instructor.”
 “I was desperate, I didn’t want to fail the class.”
 “You’re desperate to stay out of jail now aren’t you?”
 “Who wouldn’t be?”  What I would’ve liked to have said was “Oh, no jail’s a lot fun.  You get to play volleyball,
basketball, lift weights and watch TV. I’m looking forward to my first tattoo.  It’s a big vacation!”  However, I kept a lid
on my sarcasm.  
 Anyway, I looked over his shoulder and I got the feeling that the jurors were thinking “Who hasn’t done something
like that?” I don’t think that they liked McDanel much.  He was a pretty nasty guy.  We got on to something else.  
McDanel pulled out the book he had been using during his cross-examination and tried it on me. He read the
description and tried to get me to say I had those traits and it fit me.
 “I’m not a psychiatrist sir.” I said.
 “But in your own opinion does this fit you.”
 “No sir, it doesn’t.”
 He then tried to break it down and threw each symptom at me.  “A fixation on a person of higher status.” he read
and stated “Shannon Miller is of higher status.”
 “Sir, she has more accomplishments than me but she’s not a higher status.”  My parents loved that one.
 “What about the fixation?  Wouldn’t you say that all these articles and video tapes with her in them show that to be
true?”
 “No sir, I have more than that on Evander Holyfield here today and I have no obsessional fixation on him.  I admired
her very much but I wasn’t fixated on her.”
 He tried another approach on my character.  He handed me the pictures taken after Detective Lucas and Detective
Foster trashed my apartment.  “How many cases of beer do you have next to the refrigerator?”
 “Two thirty packs sir.”
 “The top one is open isn’t it?”
 “Yes sir, I had put some in the refrigerator.”
 “And this picture of the bedroom, what’s this in the box next to the desk.”
 “Nine bottles of my homemade beer.  That was a nut-brown ale I believe.  Real good too!”
 “So you were pretty well stocked, right?”
 “I always am.  Anytime I can get a good deal I stock up.”
 “Do you have a drinking problem?”
 “I have never been diagnosed with one.”
 He repeated himself “Do you have a drinking problem.”
 Again “I’ve never been diagnosed with one.”
 “In your opinion, do you have a drinking problem.”
 “No sir, I don’t.”  If I had just said no to the first question I knew what he would do.  He would open the book to the
page on alcoholism.  The way those things are phrased anyone who drinks at all has a problem.  I wasn’t going to
give him anything to work with.
 He then questioned me on the accident, trying to make it sound like I thought Shannon was in it when it happened
and that I ran into the truck to hurt her.  I stated that I had seen her leave in her own car that morning and that I did
not hit Chris’ truck intentionally.  
  The foil he really couldn’t do anything else with except say that I tried to do it to asphyxiate Chris.  I just simply said
no and that I didn’t know that could happen.  I didn’t tell him that it just doesn’t happen, as I didn’t want to do anything
to discredit John Carson. But as I said before, the foil was irrelevant.  Besides they didn’t charge me with anything
concerning it.
 His last resort was the phone calls. I just stayed with what I testified to, as it was the truth.  The problem as I said
before was that I couldn’t bring up the police reports which said that I called her once every thirty minutes and that I
couldn’t have called from so many places in that time.  I just couldn’t risk calling her a liar in front of the jury. I just
said, “That’s not the way I remember it.”  I used that quite a bit during my testimony.
 The prosecution was finished and Terry asked me three final questions.  Repeats from before;
 “Did you ever mean to vex Shannon?”
 “No, I didn’t.”
 “Did you ever mean to annoy Shannon?”
 “No, I didn’t.”
 “Did you ever mean to frighten Shannon?”
 “No I didn’t. I cared for her far too much for any of that."
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Copyright 1999 Joseph Vogt