|Sunday, October 12, 2003
|May be only place with talk of voodoo, dead rodent and pot
Knox trial may be long,but it's been quite a ride
|An example of the trial's lighter moments is this tidbit: Beverly Douglas implied that she certainly would know the smell of pot because she's "from the '60s."
By JEN McCAFFERY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
Six weeks is a long time.
Particularly for the handful of former patients of Roanoke pain specialist Cecil Byron Knox, family members, federal agents and other spectators in the gallery at his federal court trial who don't get the cushy seats that the lawyers, jurors and judge do.
Nonetheless, the trial of Knox and his associates has contained elements that have made the time on the benches go a bit faster.
Was it voodoo?
The stuffed brown bear bearing a flag with the first name of federal prosecutor Rusty Fitzgerald made its appearance during the early weeks of the trial. It was seized during a raid at Knox's practice, Southwest Virginia Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, in February 2002. Fitzgerald introduced the bear as evidence in the early weeks.
Fitzgerald questioned former practice employee Tiffany Durham about the stuffed animal, which also had pins sticking in it and a target drawn on its head. Durham testified that the daughter of another former employee of the practice wrote his name on the flag. (The daughter was not charged in the case.)
Chief U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson interjected.
"You didn't think you were doing Mr. Fitzgerald any harm by sticking pins in the stuffed animal?" Wilson asked.
Durham replied that she didn't think she was doing any harm. Fitzgerald was sick one day, but no link to the stuffed bear was ever established.
The squirrel carcass
Former practice employee Donna Stone first raised the specter of the dead squirrel in Knox's office. Durham later confirmed the report of the dead squirrel in Knox's office and elaborated on its demise.
She said she followed the smell to Knox's office, where the squirrel must have crawled up into one of the arms of a sweater that was lying on the couch.
Durham thought that at some point, someone must have mistakenly sat on the squirrel and squashed it. The squirrel remained in the sweater arm until Durham discovered it.
During a break in proceedings days later, lawyers from both sides of the case acknowledged that squatting squirrels are an underreported menace.
Several witnesses for the prosecution have testified that Knox smoked marijuana at the office with his patients.
When the defense began its case this week, Roanoke attorney Melissa Friedman asked Beverly Douglas, the wife of a former Knox patient, whether she ever smelled marijuana at Knox's office. Douglas said she didn't.
But before she could give that answer, prosecutor Fitzgerald objected, arguing that Friedman had not established that Beverly Douglas would know what marijuana smelled like.
Beverly Douglas's reply?
"I'm from the '60s."
Judging from the laughter that followed, her credential seemed to satisfy the court.