Although Larry Demmert got some respite from having Sgt. Glass in the courtroom, it didn’t prevent him from being careless. On Monday, March 17th, he talked to a friend in Bellingham. Not just any friend. A friend who had sold him a .357 magnum. A friend who may have sold him drugs. Worse yet, the defense found out.
The next day, Demmert admitted — in court — to being careless. That he’d told the friend he was being mentioned at trial, and might be brought up to testify. Weidner accused Demmert of something else.
“You told him to plead the Fifth, didn’t you?” Weidner insisted.
Demmert denied that he had. But from where Weidner stood, Larry Demmert had been tampering with a witness. Weidner wanted Demmert’s testimony struck from the record. The judge, however, saw it a little differently. Some question existed as to whether Demmert’s friend would actually be called to testify. If the man didn’t testify, it was hard to accuse Larry Dernmert of tampering with a witness.
Schulz, therefore, decided to postpone his ruling on the defense request until attorneys decided whether the witness would in fact be called. “If he doesn’t testify,” Schulz said, “it doesn’t matter.” That it mattered to the defense was, in some ways, a measure of their regard for Larry Demmert’s testimony — as well as Weidner’s eagle eye for any hint of careless actions on Demmert’s part.
Gag Order Ends
Indeed, one of their first acts after.Judge Schulz lifted his months-long gag order was to take their critique of Larry Demmert, Jr., to the public. By Weidner’s estimation, Larry Demmert, Jr., was a chameleon. “I’m delighted they chose to put him on so early,” Weidner added, “so we had the opportunity to show the jury how unreliable and confused their major witness is.”
Weidner made much of Demmert’s reliance on his previous statements when testifying at trial. “It was apparent to the jury that he wasn’t able to testify from memory,” Weidner claimed, “and had to follow the script.” As proof of that assertion, Weidner resurrected Demmert’s multiple pre-trial sessions with the prosecution. “His basic testimony took about one half hour to 45 minutes,” Weidner said of Demmert’s trial appearance. “I find it curious that it takes 28 to 42 hours to practice for that.”
Mary Anne Henry countered that Demmert had emerged as a credible witness. She said she thought Demmert was “very concerned with telling the truth and making sure of what he was saying when he said it.” That explained why he wanted to see his previous statements while testifying at trial. That also explained, Henry said, why his testimony had changed over time. Larry Demmert, she said, was “concerned with telling the truth.” Henry hastened to add, moreover, that Demmert’s basic testimony was “as consistent as any witness can be over the years.”
Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale. That manuscript, started in 1992 and based on court records from the Alaska State Archive, served as the basis for “What Happened in Craig.”
Copyright Leland E. Hale (2020). All rights reserved.