Let met tell you a tale about a judge who’s a real rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ son of a gun.
He’s Harold Neville, retired from Humboldt County Superior Court in the wilds of far northwest California. But he seems to have a bit of the spirit of famed Judge Roy Bean, who called himself the “Law West of the Pecos” back in Texas in the 1800s.
It seems Neville had been fishing with a lady friend on Oct. 29, 2006, when he became alerted to the presence of car thieves, who had stolen one vehicle and were pillaging others, down a one-way road to the Klamath River. Rather than let ‘um get away, Neville — a former Marine and highway patrol officer — blocked the road with his truck, pulled a handgun out of the vehicle’s door and demanded one of the suspects, who was in a stolen Toyota 4Runner SUV 40 yards away, to stand down.
Find out what kind of a shot Neville was, after the jump ...
Well, instead, the suspect — Loren McKinnon Jr. — pulled out a shotgun and opened fire, hitting vegetation next to Neville and causing debris to hit his face. The retired judge took cover, only to have a couple of more shots come his way from a high-caliber handgun apparently fired by someone else.
At that point, McKinnon took off in the stolen Toyota, with Neville firing at a tire — missing it — in an attempt to stop him.
All this might seem a tall tale, except for the fact it was recounted today in People v. McKinnon, A118977, an unpublished ruling (.pdf) released by San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal. The court didn’t comment on Neville’s heroism (or foolishness, depending on your point of view), but affirmed McKinnon’s conviction on counts of attempted murder, assault with a firearm, vehicle theft, second-degree burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“Under the given circumstances, and viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment, as we must,” Justice Martin Jenkins wrote, “we conclude there was sufficient evidence from which a rational jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant intended to kill Judge Neville.”
The court’s ruling upholds a prison term of 32 years and 8 months for McKinnon.
Neville, who was 77 at the time, has gained some fame in anti-crime circles. His story was recounted on the “Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog” and has been the source of talk on others.
“It’s good to see Judge Neville is very much still kicking,” one writer said. “Our local bar has enjoyed many colorful characters over the years.”
— Mike McKee