|Thursday, October 30, 2003
Ribbons, stars signify intensity of Knox case
|The doctor's supporters wear green ribbons, while the prosecution team sports a triangle of stars.
By Jen McCaffery
For some people involved in the case of Roanoke pain specialist Cecil Byron Knox and two of his associates, the case has become a crusade.
Knox backers wear sage green ribbons each day as they congregate in the federal building to show their support.
Members of the prosecution team have worn circular pins that feature an upside-down triangle of stars. The design also decorates the front of binders federal prosecutors Rusty Fitzgerald and Pat Hogeboom have used in their case.
As the jury in the case enters its sixth day of deliberation today, each side is waiting for the decision of the 12 jurors . And each side has its own fierce convictions and symbols and has arranged a makeshift network to let people know when the verdict comes in.
The "Knox Crusaders" in the lobby of the federal building are there each morning as the jury comes in, a silent reminder to the jurors that Knox, his office manager Beverly Gale Boone, and licensed professional counselor Willard Newbill James have their supporters.
The group includes Z.M. Terry of Christiansburg, who has worn a green ribbon for Knox and his associates since they were arrested in February 2002. Terry said that in alternative medicine, the color green signifies the heart.
"It's nerve-wracking to wait and anticipate what is to come," said Terry. "So many wonderful peoples' lives are hanging in the balance." Knox was the only doctor out of the 50 or 60 she said she saw who diagnosed her correctly and helped her get out of a wheelchair.
The group has also included Joann Sullivan of Berkeley, Calif., and her brother, David Luke Knox, a neurosurgeon in Arkansas.
And it even includes Richard Evans, a manufacturer's representative from Roanoke, who didn't know Knox before the trial, but came to support James. But he said the evidence he heard in the case turned him into a Knox supporter.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Fitzgerald would not comment on what the upside-down triangle of stars signified, citing the ongoing deliberations.
Tammy Akers, a sister of Tracy Lynn Akers, is also waiting for the verdict at her home in Roanoke - for a very different reason than the Knox supporters.
"They should be held accountable for participating in his death," Akers said of Knox and Boone. She said federal agent Gregg Wood said he would call her when the verdict came in so she could come down to the courthouse.
She argued that Knox turned her brother, who was a quadriplegic, into a man who could barely hold up his head.
Akers added that Knox and Boone ignored repeated calls from her brother's doctors at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, who contacted the practice after Akers overdosed four times from medication she said Knox prescribed.
"He didn't deserve to go out like that," Akers argued. "He trusted Dr. Knox." But she added that the outcome of the case was "in God's hands."