Glam Shots for Criminals

After working for over 30 years in the criminal courts in Minnesota as both a prosecutor and Public Defender, I have some stories . . .

Those of us in the trenches often say, “you can’t make a reality TV show about this stuff–it’s too real.  No one would believe it!”  I’ve had several requests to tell the story of the man who wanted a glam shot of himself.

Years ago, I tried an armed robbery case where I represented the defendant, Arvid Sonneson.  (Not his real name.)   He was a large man, heavy-set, and was proud to wear a huge cowboy hat that was probably larger than my entire body.

He had drunk a few beers and decided to rob a liquor store for more sustenance.  He drove to the store and stood outside to finish his last beer.  He left the empty bottle at the door with his fingerprints all over it and entered.

Inside, he pulled out a gun, held it out in front of him, and demanded all the money in the store.  The clerk gave him the money, Arvid took it, and left.  He was able to get away in his car.

Unfortunately for Arvid, the store owner had just installed a state-of-the-art video system which captured several images of Arvid from the waist up.  In fact, the resolution was so good, it even showed the mole on his left jaw.  He was soon identified and arrested.

Still, he plead not guilty and we went to trial

While we waited for the jury to assemble, the prosecutor pushed across the table the photos retrieved from the video recording of the robbery.  Sure enough, there was Arvid in living color, his cowboy hat tipped back on his head, the gun in his hand, and the mole on his jaw.  It identified him without a doubt.

Did Arvid consider pleading guilty at this point?

No . . . instead, he gazed at the photos for a long time and finally asked the prosecutor, “Can you make some copies of these for me?”

“Sure, if you’d like, ” the prosecutor said.  His face wrinkled.  “But why do you want them?”

Arvid smiled. “Because these are the best pictures I’ve ever seen of myself and I’d like to give them to my family and friends.”

About Colin Nelson

Colin T. Nelson worked for 40 years as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis. He tried everything from speeding tickets to first degree murder. His writing about the courtroom and the legal system give the reader a "back door" view of what goes on, what's funny, and what's a good story. He has also traveled extensively and includes those locations in his mysteries. Some are set in Southeast Asia, Ecuador,Peru, and South Africa. Readers get a suspenseful tale while learning about new places on the planet. Colin is married, has two adult children, and plays the saxophone in various bands.

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