Riot and Wrong

After the Boulder uprising, one kid got off, and one kid has a lot of time to think about what happened.

Connell does appreciate the fact that, unlike the case of Alex Boyce, there wasn't a lot of evidence against him. "The evidence against the other guys arrested in the riots was pretty good, but I still think they could've got a better deal if they'd hung in there," says Connell. "I mean, what's the deal with all this 'banned from Boulder' stuff? I was outraged that they would try that. What kind of scare tactics are those? I've been living in Boulder for fifteen years, so there was no way I was going to take that.

"The stakes were high. A conviction could have ruined my life and turned me into a sociopath if they had locked me up with some of those guys in prison. Don't get me wrong--I was cognizant of what was going on. But at the same time, the fact that they were smearing my name, turning me into Public Enemy No. 1, was pissing me off."

During his two-and-a-half-day trial, Connell says, there were two decisive moments. The first occurred when he took the stand. "I was up there," he recalls, "and said something like 'Obviously, I hurt the officer's feelings enough for him to take the stand and lie.' When I said that, Pickering got very pissed off. But at that moment, I felt like I was in control and the jury was listening to me.

"The other moment was when my buddy Pete took the stand and told the court about how right after I spit out the window, he said, 'Oh, my God, Cortland just spit on a cop!' Pickering went ballistic on that one, because I think the jury could see what really went down."

The way Connell sees it, that was when the jurors started to realize that the battle-weary cop may have arrested him simply out of frustration--not because he had thrown a rock at him.

"Hey," says Connell, "that's the good thing about Boulder juries--they're smart."

Even when the jury deliberated for over two hours, Connell says, he felt confident. "I was just feeling so much love from all my friends and family," he says. "They really supported me, and I felt very positive."

Although the trial left Connell exhausted, in debt and behind schedule to graduate, he seems to have taken something intangible out of the experience that he has a hard time explaining.

"A lot of times people get really intimidated by the justice system," he muses. "It's different when you see it on TV and when you find yourself right in the middle of it. But the bottom line is that you've got to fight for truth and justice. It sounds silly, I know, but that's what life is all about. You can't back down when you're right. I was getting all this energy from the truth. I'm not super-religious or anything, but I found out that situations like this bring out your spirituality."

And with that, Connell turns his attention to more pressing matters. He's got MTV filming a party at his house this weekend. Plus, he had to pawn his guitar to pay his attorney's fees and is trying to get it out of hock.

"I guess the only bad thing to come out of this," he says, "is that I'm broke."

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