Shooting at Loons, the third in my Judge Deborah Knott series, is now an eBook, available from www.BN.com (Nook) or www.Amazon.com (Kindle). This one takes her to Harkers Island so that she can hold court in Beaufort and get a decent bowl of she-crab soup. It’s also where she meets Kidd Chapin for the first time.
As with all the books, she immediately runs into a case she might not have heard further inland:
About mid-morning though, I hit something that could only occur at the coast: Felton Keith Bodie and James Gordon Bodie. Brothers. Twenty-two and nineteen, respectively. Charged with driving while intoxicated, impeding traffic, and unlawfully discharging a firearm to the public endangerment.
In simple English, according to the trooper who testified against them, he’d come across a small traffic jam off Highway 70, heading for Gloucester, shortly before midnight last Tuesday night. I’m familiar with that road and I know that stretches of it can get pretty dark and deserted. Too, there are deep drainage ditches on either side, so if anything blocks the road, it’s hard to
“Please describe to the court what you found,” said the assistant district attorney.
“Well,” said the trooper, referring to his notebook in a distinctive Down East accent, “these two were operating a 1986 F-150 Ford XL pickup. At the time I arrived on the scene, the pickup was skewed across the road and blocking traffic from both directions. Mr. Felton Bodie was trying to aim a spotlight mounted on the side of the truck and Mr. James Bodie was shooting at something on the edge of the road.”
“And did you ascertain what their target might be?” asked the ADA.
“Well, I didn’t have time to see anything at first, because as I was heading over to the driver’s side of the truck, Mr. Felton Bodie yelled, ‘You got him!’ and then he jumped out of the truck and ran over to where Mr. James Bodie was wrestling something out of the ditch. They’d just got it th’owed in the back of the truck when I stepped around to the side where they were and asked them what was going on.”
At that point, the trooper glanced at me and slipped into automatic pilot. “There was a strong odor of alcohol on and about the breath and persons of both suspects. Both were glassy-eyed, talkative, incoherent of speech, and unsteady of motion.”
I nodded encouragingly and the ADA said, “Then what?”
“Then I relieved Mr. James Bodie of his rifle and took them both into custody.”
“Did either defendant make a statement?”
“Mr. Felton Bodie said they were driving home to Gloucester when they saw an alligator on the side of the road and decided to shoot it. Mr. James Bodie said they were going to skin it out and sell the skin.”
The two Bodie brothers sat at the defense table with egg-sucking looks of embarrassment on their faces.
Puzzled, I asked, “Aren’t alligators protected?”
“Yes, ma’am, they sure are, Judge,” said the ADA, waiting for me to step all the way in it.
I ran my finger down the calendar. “Are they being separately charged for that offense?”
“No, Your Honor,” the trooper grinned. “’Cause it worn’t a alligator they shot and put in the back of their truck. It was a four-foot retread off’n one of them big tractor-trailer tires.”
I was laughing so hard I had to pick myself up off the floor before I could gavel everybody else in the courtroom back to order.
“Put up a big fight, did it?” I asked when the two Bodies rose to speak in their own defense.
In the end, I judged them guilty of a level five offense and gave them sixty days suspended, a hundred-dollar fine plus court costs, and twenty-four hours of community service as punishment for trying to shoot a protected species to the public endangerment. “And you’d just better be grateful there’s no law against killing retreads,” I told them.