Ken Blassingame and the hand without a thumb

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There were several times when he hit me pretty good with these cases. He was a good prosecutor. I remember one time he was so gung-ho — still lives on the other side of the tracks. You get your money’s worth, and the State got it out of him. Tried this robbery case, and the only defense we really had was misidentification. And the question was that this man didn’t have no thumb on one hand.

And I asked the complaining witness, I said, “You know, you saw him good?” “Yes.” “Well, where did he have the gun?” He said, “He had it in hi right hand.” “Well, how did he get the money?” He said, “I handed it to him.” “What hand?” “Left hand.” I said, “Did you see anything unusual about it at all?” “No, sir.” Well, he was born without a thumb. That’s the only thing that saved that man.

So we got back to our side of the case, called the defendant with his hand. Couldn’t put him on the witness stand, had been in the pen in Arkansas two or three times. And I said, “Your Honor, I introduce this man’s hand.” And old Ken down there popped up and said, “He hasn’t testified, Your Honor.” well, then it was reversible error if you had an objection. That resulted in a mistrial.

We tried it a second time. Same thing, and Ken was so carried away he wanted to get that guy so bad because he knew he had been to the Arkansas pen three times. I introduced that thumb again in evidence and that hand. And he jumped up and this guy that worked with him said, “Don’t do it again.” Anyway. He was really trying his case. He did well. He was tough to try cases against. He was as tough as Bill Alexander. He said, “The only way you can beat him in a bad case was to push his buttons bad.” And if you play with him enough and push the right buttons, he’d jump up and do something he shouldn’t do; you’ve got a mistrial. You just had to know how to do it. That was kind of — you didn’t make friends that way, but that was the way it worked.

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