Criminals lie, even cry, to avoid the consequences of their crimes that they justly deserve
Remember, the main criminal guideline says, “Get past as many people as possible. Get away from crime as often as you can! If you get caught, do what you have to do, including lying, blaming, saying what people wants to listen, including confession, as long as you lie and blame, and negotiate enough to reduce the burden of deserved consequences.
I saw this directive represented in a recent case in court in Durham (NC). Police had accused Calvin Nicholson of fatally shooting 18-year-old Todd Antonio Douglas about three years ago. In a local newspaper account of the court testimony of the director of the Durham Police Department’s homicide squad, we read: “First-degree murder defendant Calvin Nicholson appeared to be ‘explicit, very sincere and remorseful’ when confessed nearly three years ago to fatally shooting another man as part of an alleged gang initiation ritual, the head of the Durham Police Department’s homicide squad proved Thursday (March 20, 2008) that he wanted to join, according to Sgt. Jack Cates. Citing Nicholson, Cates said the order to do “work” came from a man named Justin Hatch, a co-defendant in the murder to be tried later. Such orders are common in the mob field, he added. Cates. The sergeant proved that in his experience gang ‘work’ includes robberies, rapes, assaults and even murders. The more serious the crimes people commit, the higher they can rise and rise. n the hierarchy of a gang, added Cates.”
Nicholson was only 16 years old when he killed Douglas.
I have no doubt that what Detective Cates said in court, based on Nicholson’s confession, is the confessed killer’s version of the “truth.” Remember, however, that this story, as told by Nicholson, is designed to reduce as much as possible the deserved consequences of his crime. According to Nicholson’s alleged confession, he shot Douglas twice, but others in the car were also shooting in the 18-year-old’s direction. So, according to the defense attorney’s theory in this case, someone else’s bullet could have and probably did kill Douglas. In his confession, Nicholson told police, “I don’t know if I hit him or not.”
Do you see the main directive? He shifted the blame. He didn’t want to kill Douglas. The Bloods, a supposed street gang, initiated the murder by establishing this crime as one of their rites of passage. In this specific murder, Nicholson attempted to shift responsibility from himself to an alleged gang leader, Justin Hatch, who, according to the defendant in this case, handed Nicholson a high-powered handgun and said, “Time to shoot.” “. “That part of Nicholson’s version of this murderous scenario probably happened more or less as he described it, although I have questions about who provided the gun and who said, ‘Time to shoot.’
Now here comes the lie, the heart and core of Nicholson’s strategy to reduce the burden of responsibility and get away with a slightly lighter sentence than the mandatory life sentence he faced if convicted of the first-degree murder charge. In his confession to Durham police, Nicholson is quoted as saying, “The reason I shot him [Douglas] it was because I thought I wanted to join the gang. By the time I realized it wasn’t, it was already too late. . . I’m really sorry for what I did and I know I don’t want to be a gang member.” How convenient! According to Nicholson, his desire to be a “Blood” ended when a young man’s life was wiped out by gunshot wounds. Didn’t that epiphany happen before Nicholson started shooting? Here’s the key question that reveals Nicholson’s lie: How could the Bloods initiate multiple people into the gang when no one knew for sure who fired the fatal shot, if killing someone was the price of initiation?
What a convenient epiphany! I have had them myself! One in particular that occurred in the early fall of 1959 remains indelible in my mind. On this particular Sunday, I was resting at Clementine’s house. Clementine, a beautiful young woman from Durham, was my girlfriend. Two criminal cohorts came forward and declared that they had a lot of good stuff stashed away from a Saturday night robbery. They wanted me to help them sell it. They also wanted me to go and help them get it out of the stash, because, as they said, it was too much for both of them to carry. In a valiant but ineffective effort to save myself from myself, Clem begged me not to go, that he not leave her. “This won’t take long,” I declared. “Let me get this money and then I’ll call you.” Wrong! I never came back.
Wait a minute, I think now, not then, if the stolen property is too much for you two to carry on Sunday, then how did you hide it on Saturday night? Why didn’t I ask that question? Because crime is stupid and the more you do it, the more stupid you get. Why didn’t Nicholson ask Hatch, “Why is killing an innocent person the price of joining this gang? What if I’m not willing to pay that price? Same answer! Crime is stupid!” Nicholson, like me in the late 1950s, had committed crimes for so long that he, like me then, teeters on the brink of incurable stupidity.
Now my epiphany! On the way back to the house, my two cohorts in crime decided to rob a drunk man. A woman called the police. We ran. I needed to get back to Haiti, to the safety of Clem’s house. As I ran down a path between some houses toward South Roxboro Street, the cold words of a Durham police officer stopped me in my tracks: “Put your black a… on the ground ni… r, or we’ll blow you up.” “. He was armed. He had two guns. But when I felt him bring me closer and closer to the ground, I thought to myself, “I wish I had never gone and picked up any of this hot stuff.” . . Besides, if he was as bad as he claimed to be, he’d pull out both my pistols and go down in a blaze of glory.” What an epiphany!
At the police station, I stated as honestly as possible that none of this was my fault. I had met these two guys who I knew casually and they had asked me to help them carry some things. I had no idea, I told the police, that the things had been stolen. No, I had nothing to do with trying to rob the old man. In fact, I tried to dissuade them. It was then that I realized that I had made a mistake and tried to run home.
You see, I know that Nicholson was lying about being sorry or regretting killing Douglas. I know he was lying about how he didn’t want to be part of a gang anymore. You see, here is what is not in his confession or revealed in his stoic demeanor in court: 1) a renunciation of his criminal mindset, lifestyle, and cohorts, 2) an acceptance of full responsibility for his current circumstances, 3 ) an acknowledgment that if he ever hopes to become a contributing member of society, he must change his thinking and behavior.
So-called remorse is simply not enough! A young man has died! A mother is still grieving! All of us have been cheated out of any contribution Douglas might have made at the time. As God told Cain, the first murderer, “A whole line of unborn children cry out for justice.”
This is the really bad news! Nicholson’s plot worked! He was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison. Imagine that! An 18-year-old was brutally murdered, and his convicted killer will be 29 when he is released from prison in November 2017. All we can do now is hope that one day Nicholson realizes that even having to spend 12 years in prison , still got a better end to this sorry deal than Douglas.