The pink underwear and green bologna are one thing, but entrapping an inmate is going too far. That’s what a jury determined in the case of James Saville, a young man who’s suing the sheriff for $10 million for entrapment and wrongful incarceration. Chances are, he’ll collect something, but that’s nothing new when it comes to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s already cost county taxpayers $13.5 million in lawsuits.
You have to wonder, watching the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” prance and preen, just how far Joe Arpaio would go for a publicity stunt. Would he lie? Would he entrap an unsuspecting victim? Would he pretend that his life was in danger? Would he steal a young man’s life?
Jimmy Saville is convinced he knows the answer. He says he lost the prime years of his life – from ages 18 to 22 – proving just how far the sheriff would go.
But don’t expect to believe this young man’s unbelievable story, because it sounds too outlandish, too mean and too horrible to be real. Believe, instead, the word of the jury that freed Jimmy Saville from an un-imaginable nightmare.
“This was a publicity stunt at the expense of four years of someone’s life,” says jury forewoman Fausta Woody.
“This was a big setup from the beginning,” says juror Leslie Prybylski. Another juror, who has requested to be identified as “Lisa,” says she was “shocked – we depend on these people to protect us, and yet they did something so horrible to a little boy.”
Jimmy Saville has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the sheriff for entrapment and wrongful incarceration. And make no mistake about it, this is going to cost every taxpayer in Maricopa County – just as Arpaio has already cost county taxpayers $13.5 million in lawsuits for mishandling or abusing those entrusted to his jails. It’s unlikely Saville won’t collect – even though the Sheriff’s Department strenuously denies it did anything wrong. No, this is probably going to be costly, once it becomes crystal clear what the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Joe Arpaio did to a Phoenix boy named James Brian Saville.
You’ve seen Jimmy Saville on television, and you might even remember him. He led the evening news on all of the local stations the night of July 9, 1999. The stories went something like this: “Sher-iff’s officers today foiled an attempt to blow up Sheriff Joe Arpaio with a car bomb. The sheriff was unavailable for comment, as he rushed home to comfort his terrified wife.”
First you saw the “undercover” footage shot by a pool-camera for Phoenix television stations in the parking lot of The Ro-man Table, an Italian restaurant on Seventh Avenue in Phoenix. There was a young man in a T-shirt and Levi’s, arriving in a truck with a bearded man, who slipped away as officers rushed in to catch him with the bomb. Arpaio’s chief deputy, Dave Hendershott, held a press conference in the parking lot, saying they’d caught the dangerous bomber through the help of an informant and good police work.
The man was caught red-handed with the bomb, in a city where the most famous crime of the last 30 years was a car bomb that killed a reporter covering organized crime. If you watched the news that night, you wanted authorities to throw the book at this despicable punk.
Four years later, on July 4, 2003, the news story wasn’t nearly as hyped when a Maricopa County jury acquitted Jimmy Saville of trying to blow up the sheriff, setting him free on what is quite arguably the toughest defense anyone could attempt – entrapment.
It is almost impossible in Arizona to prove entrapment, and so, it is a defense that’s seldom evoked. In this case, the judge was so convinced that an entrapment plea was hopeless, he urged the 22-year-old boy, who hadn’t yet learned how to drive, to take a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for 20 years. The judge warned that if he insisted on this defense and lost, the sentence would be even worse.
And there’s a reason for his warning. In order to prove entrapment, three things are required: 1) proof that the idea of the crime had originated with law enforcement or its agents; 2) proof that officers induced the person to commit the crime; and 3) proof that the accused was not predisposed to commit the crime in the first place. Failure on any one of these points invalidates the entrapment defense.
Saville’s attorney, Ulises Ferragut, prevailed on all three, even though he began the case by telling the jury that his client, in fact, did everything the prosecution was claiming: He designed a bomb, he bought all the parts for a bomb, he built the bomb, and he went to the parking lot where the sheriff’s car was parked. “But wait until you hear why he did all those things,” Ferragut told the jury.
As it turned out, Ferragut had some powerful help in proving his case, including a dishonest informant who the jury clearly saw as the orchestrator, a defendant they did not believe was an angry young man, and a former undercover sheriff’s officer who they saw as courageous for spilling the beans.
Jurors listened in disbelief as testimony showed it was the sheriff’s money that purchased the bomb parts, and an undercover officer who drove Saville around to buy the parts. They also heard how the sheriff and his top lieutenants had sat inside The Ro-man Table for more than two hours, waiting for the “bomber” to show up. They heard how the media had been alerted that morning that a bust was coming down, and how a television cameraman had waited in the bushes until around 3 p.m. And they learned that Jimmy Saville had been sitting in jail for four long years since then, waiting for his day in court, because the sheriff’s office had dragged its feet in producing evidence, dribbling out one report, one tape, one transcript at a time.
The testimony was so compelling that once inside the jury room, 10 jurors immediately voted for acquittal.
“A lot of efforts were made by the sheriff’s department to make this appear real,” says jury forewoman Fausta Woody, in the most in-depth interview she’s ever given on the case. “Jimmy Saville is not a criminal – he’s a criminal because he did something the sheriff’s office wanted him to do.”
It began with a letter to a minister from an inmate at the Arizona State Prison Complex at Perryville.
“What I am about to tell you is very important and dangerous,” the letter, from inmate Thomas Morgan, began. “I have recently learned of a plot to kill a superior court judge and a prosecutor.” Five paragraphs later, almost as an afterthought, the letter added, “He talks about killing Sheriff Joe, also.”
The minister, who counseled inmates, thought it was his duty to pass such information along, and so he alerted the sheriff’s office at around 10:30 a.m. on June 29, 1999. He’d later say that if officers had asked, he’d have told them he didn’t trust Morgan, and that he feared Morgan was a scam artist. But no one asked, and no one ever interviewed him – not until Saville’s defense attorney called several years later. The minister has since died.
By noon that first day, sheriff’s detectives had alerted the judge and prosecutor, finding that the only case they’d worked together involved a juvenile named James Saville. Saville was a 6-foot-2, 173-pound man, born October 1, 1980, who had been convicted in 1997 of “misconduct involving weapons and burglary” for vandalizing Maryvale High School.
Because he was a minor when he was sentenced to 18 months, Saville had first been sent to a juvenile facility. But when he turned 18, he was transferred to Perryville. He had bunked with a couple of other inmates, but about a month earlier, he was put in a two-man cell with Thomas Morgan. Saville’s sentence was almost up.
By 11 a.m. the next day, the detectives were sitting down with Morgan. Jimmy Saville was a “nut” who talked “constantly” about killing the judge and attorney, Morgan told them. But it was the officers who reminded him that the letter he wrote had also included threats to Sheriff Joe. Morgan said Saville had said, “If I killed Sheriff Joe, I’d be a hero.”
“You know, it’s like he’s infatuated with blowing people up,” Morgan declared.
The cell was searched, and what detectives found seemed alarming. Inside was a white, lined notebook filled with drawings and notations on bomb-making, including a list of “things you need: a) end caps, b) double-threaded pipe, c) gunpowder….” It also included “things to get: Anarchist Cookbook, Poor Man’s James Bond, Uncle Festers Recipes.”
In addition, it had drawings of a camera/cell phone, a telescope to view the planets, and a rocket. Officers concluded that James Saville was a mad bomber. If they had read the entire notebook, however, the drawings and notations would not have seemed quite so sinister, because, instead, they illustrated his “Life plan: get job; work for 1 to 2 years, save money, try to go to… Robotics Inc., etc; pursue a career in electronic/or robotics.”
Officers also could have checked with his previous cellmates to verify his fixation on bombs, but they never did. If they’d asked, they’d have been told – as those cellies later testified – that James Saville had never uttered any threats against a judge, a prosecutor or even Sheriff Joe, and that his drawings were “scientific.”
Nevertheless, on July 2, Saville and Morgan were separated and put in adjoining cells. Bugging equipment was built in, and even though Morgan wasn’t told their conversations were being monitored, it’s clear from his later comments that he had suspected as much.
The 24-hour audiotapes began immediately. Every day, an officer would pick up the tapes, as well as a written log by the officers who’d monitored the taping. The first tapes picked up on July 3 included the notation: “During his shift, there was nothing relevant logged.” It would go on like that for more than 64 hours of tapes.
The first interesting thing that anyone heard was, “Fuck prison, fuck Joe, fuck the sheriff’s office.” But those words were not uttered by Jimmy Saville, they were uttered by Thomas Morgan.
It took six days of taping before Jimmy Saville uttered anything that sounded like a threat. That’s when he said he’d deliver a pizza to the sheriff’s office with poison on it, and talked about how to wire a bomb onto a car.
In their private meeting on July 6, detectives kept pushing Morgan to explain why there wasn’t more. Saville had “dummed up” in the cell, Morgan said, and he admitted that “most of their conversations had taken place while they were at recreation,” where conversations could not be recorded.
But Morgan also bragged that Saville “thinks that I was this big criminal.” (Later, he’d say that he presented himself to Saville as “this big Irish mobster.”)
“Here’s something that I posed to him,” Morgan told officers, according to a transcript of that meeting. “I said, ‘If someone offered to pay you for your services to do something to somebody, and help finance you, would you be interested?’ And he goes, ‘Oh yeah, by all means.’”
By then, Morgan admitted that he had already brought up a rich and dangerous “friend” named Yancey – a guy on the outside who’d be interested in hiring Saville for criminal jobs.
Detective Phil Doughtery suggested the possibility of connecting Saville with an undercover agent they’d call Yancey, under the guise that “he’s got some money, and he might be able to make it worth your while to… you know, maybe make something for him, to make a bomb, something like that, ’cause… he really wants Arpaio bad, ’cause he doesn’t like Arpaio at all.”
In this same conversation, Morgan is obviously perplexed as to why the detectives are so fixated on Arpaio when he says that Saville is really most angry with the prosecutor and the judge.
“Well, not too many people know a prosecutor,” Doughtery answers. “…Every-body knows Arpaio….”
As the conversation continues, Detective Doughtery gets more and more direct in what lies and inducements Morgan is to use to get Saville in line:
- “…get across to him that Yancey is interested in taking care of his problems, and his problems lie with the Sheriff’s Office and Joe Arpaio, OK?”
- “…make up a big story about how Yancey got screwed over by the Sheriff’s Office.”
- “…tell him, Yancey can help you out with anything you need. If you need a place to stay, you need a car to get around, you need to be able to get some material, you need some money…. Yancey owes me, and not only that, but you guys have a common cause… you both hate Arpaio….”
- “…somewhere in there try to throw in… Yancey hates Arpaio, and he’d rather blow him up, you like to make bombs, and he’d love to blow Arpaio up. You guys will hit it off just great.”
Morgan then shows officers he understands exactly the tone to use: “Basically, Yancey is gonna be his godfather [laugh].”
Back in the prison cell, Tape 94 records Morgan laying out the scheme to Saville, telling him that Yancey is ready to pay three to four thousand dollars for a “package” bomb for an unspecified purpose. By this time, Morgan is really playing a Mafia-like character – he’s talking about murder “contracts,” and how powerful he and Yancey are on the outside.
In addition, Morgan started pushing Saville to phone Yancey, but the boy kept stalling and putting him off – saying he would call after he got out of prison. Morgan, however, insisted that the call had to be made now.
Finally, according to the log kept on the taped conversations, there are four crucial notations:
- “Target [Saville] out of cell to use phone.”
- “Target back in cell.”
- “Talking about phone call [to Yancey].”
- “LISTEN TO ALL OF TAPE 98.”
If there were ever a tape that would help shed light on this case, it was Tape 98 – obviously, the monitoring officer thought it was important. And James Saville would later claim that the words on that very tape would set him free.
“I thought that Morgan was in the Irish Mafia,” Jimmy Saville says now, sitting in his attorney’s office, looking like an overgrown boy. “I saw him get extras – cigarettes, meals, phone calls whenever he wanted…. In prison, that translates into power.”
He never planned to bomb anyone, he maintains. As for the poison pizza, he says, “I was answering Morgan’s question – he kept asking me how I’d get to someone.” And the discussion on how to wire a bomb to a car? “He brought it up,” Saville says. And the drawing of a pipe bomb? “Morgan asked me to draw him one to prove I knew how to do it.” Saville stresses he’d never built a bomb before, and learned how to do it through the Discovery Channel and the internet. He maintains that the constant conversation out on the exercise yard was how powerful Morgan was, and how connected he was in the mob.
Saville says he got the same feeling of power the day he called Yancey. “When I got back to the cell, Morgan told me, ‘You just joined the Mafia.’” Saville says he was warned there was no way out.
“I was supposed to build the bomb, give it to Yancey, and go away. I did not know who it was for. I asked Morgan if it was for a man or a woman, and he said, ‘It’s not for you to know.’ I had to do whatever they said. I had no choice, because I was now in the Irish Mafia.”
He remembers Morgan telling him that night after the call, “You’re in the organization now – you have to act tough. When you meet Yancey, act like a professional, not like a kid. You have to sell yourself. You’re being tested.”
And he also remembers something else: “They wouldn’t let me call my dad, but they let me call Yancey.”
Jimmy Saville would sit in Arpaio’s jail for nearly four years, waiting for his case to go to trial, and during that time he spent most of his waking hours fighting for documents, reports and transcripts that were supposed to prove the case against him.
He was particularly happy when he found the notations on Tape 98, because he remembered clearly what had been said, and how it would prove what he had been saying all along – that he was conned and coerced into a plot that was never his idea, and never his inclination.
And so it was particularly disturbing to find that Tape 98 was blank.
There wasn’t a single thing on it, and you’ll never convince Jimmy Saville that that was an accident. “It’s not just my case where stuff has disappeared,” he says.
But while the tape turned up blank, there are a few notations from the officer who was monitoring that tape. And in those notes is something that gives a clear indication that Jimmy Saville was not the instigator, but was simply taking orders: “Target [Jimmy Saville] talks about selling the bomb, but wants to know if he has to put it on the car.”
On July 7, 1999, detectives met with Morgan once again. “It was explained to him that at this point he needed to let Saville do the taking about making a bomb and killing somebody.” The occurrence report also notes: “Morgan said that he never told Saville exactly what Yancey would want a bomb built for. Morgan said Saville asked if he would be involved in [putting the] bomb somewhere, and Morgan told him to let Yancey take care of it.”
The officers were clearly uncomfortable and begged for restraint. “We have to be very, very careful… this has to be Saville’s idea. We can’t be planting ideas in his head. Then it becomes very touchy, and there is a very fine line in between what is his idea now and what was our idea.” Later, they underscore their concern again: “We can’t stress enough, it’s time to just kind of back off and let him do the talking.” But time was running out. Saville was scheduled to be released on July 8.
In all, sheriff’s officers recorded 137 hours of tape. In the end, they had just bits and shreds – all of it instigated and inspired by Thomas Morgan. Their “target” very clearly was nothing more than a puppy being led around by the alpha dog.
Jimmy Saville started his first and last day of freedom at 7 a.m. on a bike in northeast Phoenix. It was July 9, 1999. He had gotten out of prison the day before, stopping to see his stepfather, then going home with his stepsister.
On this particular morning, to fulfill his probation requirements, he set out to apply for jobs. By 8:15 a.m., he’d picked up job applications at a Circle K, Chevron, Diamond Key, Walgreens, Albertsons, Payday Loans and also a Burger King. At 9 a.m., he walked into a McDonald’s and met the in-famous Yancey face-to-face. They left in a silver Chevy Tahoe, and over the next several hours, Yancey drove Saville around to buy bomb parts. Because Saville had no money, Yancey paid.
They spent $28.73 at a Hobby Bench for a model rocket engine, $10.98 in a Radio Shack for battery clips and tape, and more at a Home Base, a Home Depot and a K-Mart, taking snack breaks at a Burger King and a McDonald’s.
From the moment they made the first purchase, Saville could have been arrested. Certainly, by the time they’d bought all the parts (except the battery that would make the bomb explode), the case had been solidly made.
Some officers in the surveillance team kept wondering why they weren’t taking the guy down.
But then word came that they wanted Yancey to take Saville all the way Downtown to the Los Olivos Hotel, where officers had installed some taping equipment. Saville didn’t want to go. He wanted to go home, but Yancey wouldn’t let him.
So they went to the Downtown hotel, and Saville put together the pipe bomb – again, without the mechanism to actually make it explode.
Now and then during this timeframe, the recording device on Yancey picked up swaggerings from a kid who clearly was trying to sound “like a pro, not a kid.” And other times, the tape doesn’t track, showing it’s been turned on and off, and wasn’t recording all the conversations.
Yancey insisted they go by the restaurant where the sheriff’s car was parked, so Saville would know what it looked like.
They arrived at The Roman Table on Seventh Avenue around 3 p.m. Sheriff Joe and his lieutenants had been waiting for them to arrive. Hidden in the bushes was a cameraman from Channel 10, who’d been chosen as the pool cameraman to record the scene and share the tape with the other local stations.
He was there because on this particular morning – as the bomb buying had just begun – the sheriff’s office put out a “media advisory” stating that an attempt on the sheriff’s life was going to be foiled that day.
That is how Jimmy Saville ended up leading the news that night. That is how Hendershott’s news conference got covered. And that is why, for the next four years, Sheriff Joe could brag that he was so feared as the “toughest sheriff in America” that somebody had tried to blow him up.
Jimmy Saville came of age while sitting in Arpaio’s jail, waiting for his case to come to trial. For four long years, he waited to find out if he’d be spending most of his life in prison.
At first, Saville had a court-appointed attorney, who didn’t seem to care too much about his protestations of innocence. So, Saville started acting as his own attorney – demanding transcripts, demanding tapes. “I read the transcripts and I highlighted all this stuff, but the attorney said, ‘Oh, that doesn’t mean anything,’” he recalls.
Saville then remembered a young public defender named Ulises Ferragut who’d since gone into private practice. He wrote Ferragut a simple letter, asking him to take the case. Ferragut and his investigator wife, Kim, started digging around, and Saville started dreaming about his day in court.
But he almost didn’t get it. At a settlement meeting in the judge’s chambers, the judge begged the young man to take the offer on the table – about 20 years. Saville’s mother also urged him to take it. She told her son she believed he was innocent, but it was too chancy to go to trial and get a sentence that would not end until he was a middle-aged man. And even Ferragut advised his client that this was the best they could get.
As it turned out, Saville actually signed the plea agreement, and that’s when the last piece fell into place: Former undercover sergeant Wayne Scoville – the link between the sheriff’s brass and its undercover agents – called Ferragut to say, “I feel the kid was set up.”
Ferragut decided to go for broke and went to trial.
“The trial was great,” Saville says with a large grin. “After every day of trial, I’d wake up every morning anxious to go back. They had to account for everything they said. It played out the way I imagined it.”
But even he never imagined that someone from inside the sheriff’s office would unlock the secrets.
Wayne Scoville spent 23 years with the sheriff’s office, advancing to become the sergeant in charge of special investigations, with eight men and women in his unit. During his career, he’d handled more than 1,000 undercover operations. However, the James Brian Saville case never actually came through his department – although the infamous Yancey worked for him. Instead, the case was assigned to a special “threat’s unit.”
As he looked at the case, the first thing Scoville noted was the inexperience of the officers assigned to it – one had never worked as an informant, and the other was on only his second case. The second thing was an informant of the “worst kind” – a prison snitch. “The motivation of guys in prison is obvious – they are very unreliable because they are in prison,” Scoville says.
“They could want as little as to move cells.”
He says an experienced officer would have first tested the reliability of the informant: talk to the pastor who brought the letter, check Morgan’s claims of being an in-formant in the past, talk to other cellmates for verification that Saville was a bomb-crazy nut. But none of that was ever done. If it had been, they’d have discovered that nothing checked out.
Scoville adds that it doesn’t surprise him that officers jumped at this case. “You don’t pass up opportunities to get publicity for the sheriff if you want to stay an officer. I have heard him say, ‘Bring me a case that gets me on the front page above the fold.’”
He laughs and says he is probably just old-fashioned, but he’s always thought, “You get PR by doing good cases, not from making them up.”
Scoville was a part of the surveillance team the day of the bomb-buying picnic, and he remembers thinking from the start that something wasn’t right. “Surveillance was a joke. Saville was too gullible, he wasn’t reacting like a normal suspect would,” Scoville says now. He also remembers being flabbergasted when Captain Brian Sands, the third in line in the chain of command, called and asked if they could take Saville out to Arpaio’s home.
Scoville says he couldn’t believe his ears. “I cautioned that this was not a good idea.” Sands called back and told Scoville the new plan was to have Yancey take the boy to the Los Olivos Hotel. “We were up around 32nd Street and Cave Creek Road, near where he lived, and we had to go all the way Downtown,” Scoville remembers. What was most odd, he thought at the time, was that they had already watched the kid buy bomb parts all day, and had all the evidence they needed. The arrest was a piece of cake.
“We went back to the office laughing – ‘This is the dumbest kid we’ve ever seen.’ We didn’t know how he’d been set up.”
Later, Scoville would learn a lot more information that would increase his suspicions. There was no file on the case – the normal procedure had been bypassed. His concerns about the informant were confirmed when he saw the transcripts of the prison tapes. He found little information on the tapes to support the charges. And it all started adding up to a simple conclusion: “Saville was completely being led and doing anything he was told to do.”
Of all the things that bother him about this case, two rankle him the most, and both involve tapes. One is that Tape 98 turned up blank. “If he was saying, ‘I can’t wait to kill the sheriff,’ the tape would not have been blank,” Scoville explains. “But because it wasn’t incriminating, it’s blank. That’s criminal. People in that office knew they were sending that kid to prison for life for something he never did.”
The other thing that rankles Scoville is that Yancey would get on the stand and say he didn’t record all of his conversations with Saville as they drove around buying bomb parts because he was “saving tape.” Scoville says he has heard few things so absurd. “We do not do that,” he says, and again implies that the tape was turned off for nefarious reasons.
Scoville, who was awarded a meritorious service medal in 1997, was suspended in 2001, on charges of lying about his wife’s mental health – she also works for the department, and they are now divorcing – and he’s now on medical retirement. He has filed a suit against the department to clear his name.
The sheriff’s department contends that nothing Scoville says should be believed, because he’s just trying to “retaliate” against the office. Jack MacIntyre, director of intergovernmental relations for the department, referred to him as a “low level” employee who was “under the gun” and had “a really big stake in hating the office.”
Scoville says his testimony was born out by the evidence.
“I stayed up nights just thinking about Saville,” he says. “I got to the point I was more worried that he not go to jail than I was about my safety – it was just so wrong what they did. You can’t pay him back. If you could pick four of the most prime years [in a man’s life], it’s 18 to 22. He’s changed forever.”
What worries Scoville most, though, is what this case says about the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office: “If they will do this, the will do anything.”
And why not? As the sheriff’s office likes to note, Joe Arpaio is one of Arizona’s most popular politicians, winning the last election with 57 percent of the vote (after surviving a challenge in the primary when his own Republican Party attempted to depose him). But most voters will tell you they like Arpaio’s tough stance on crime, including his harsh treatment in the jails – inmates with pink underwear and black-and-white-striped uniforms.
He’s also a sheriff who deflects all criticism – and lawsuits – by saying he’s either misunderstood or distorted. And that is the same stance his office takes in this case.
The department finds the “entrapment” talk ridiculous, and MacIntyre flatly rejects any suggestion at all that the jury’s decision meant the sheriff’s department did something wrong.
Was James Brian Saville entrapped? “Oh, no, not at all.”
Was this just a publicity stunt? “I would disagree with that completely.”
What about the jury’s acquittal? “There can be an abundance of reasons for acquittal, none of which negates the original probable cause [that a crime was committed].”
What about Saville’s civil suit? “In my opinion, it’s bogus.”
MacIntyre says the sheriff’s department gathered the evidence and the county attorney’s office prosecuted the case in front of a respected judge, and all of that points to a case of merit.
MacIntyre double-checked, at PHOENIX magazine’s request, just how much the county has paid out in lawsuits against the sheriff’s office in Arpaio’s 12-year tenure. He returned with a figure of $13.5 million, noting that that doesn’t include the $8.25 million settlement awarded to the family of Scott Norberg, who died while in Sheriff Joe’s custody. That amount is listed separately, MacIntyre said, because the settlement was paid by an insurance company. (That company, by the way, no longer does business with Maricopa County.)
I’m mainstream and think law enforcement is there to protect you – not to get you to do something wrong,” says jury forewoman Fausta Woody, admitting she’s still “shocked” at what she heard during 17 days of testimony in 2003. “Jimmy made the pipe bomb, but he had no power.”
She can still see the young man on the witness stand, explaining everything: the drawings, his fear of the Irish Mafia, being trapped by Yancey, acting big because he was being “tested.”
“He made an excellent witness for himself,” she says. “He made decisions that were wrong, but he thought those decisions were keeping him alive.”
In contrast, she says, informant Thomas Morgan came off as scary, as hostile, and as someone who’d say anything to get what he wanted. She says jurors saw through him immediately, especially after Saville’s previous cellmates testified that “at no time did Jimmy ever talk about killing anybody.”
She also praised Officer Scoville for his “courage” in testifying against his own department. “We all saw him putting his own career on the line,” she says.
“Every day, there’d be something to make you think, what’s happening with the sheriff’s department, why did it happen this way?” Woody says. “To me, it was pretty clear that the sheriff’s department wanted it to appear that Sheriff Joe’s life was in danger. I can’t imagine why it would be done, except for self-gratification and publicity.”
When the jury got the case, Woody call-ed immediately for a vote because she wanted to see how far apart the 12 jurors were. She was amazed to find that 10 of them saw Saville as innocent.
The two who thought he wasn’t – using the logic that he had built the bomb, so who cares why – listened to their fellow jurors. The next morning when they reconvened, one had changed his mind, and eight hours later, so did the other.
Their verdict came back on Independence Day, a Friday that year, and jurors were dismayed to learn that Jimmy Saville would have to spend the weekend in jail awaiting the final paperwork. Woody was one of three jurors who came back to the court on Monday to be sure the boy walked away free.
To this day, Lisa, another juror, keeps Jimmy Saville in her prayers. “He’s always included in my prayers, and I hope he’s the person he was supposed to be,” she says.
Juror Leslie Prybylski sends him this message: “Stay strong and believe in yourself – others out there believe in you.”
Jimmy Saville hasn’t had an easy time of it since he walked out of Sheriff Joe’s jail. “I tried to get a job everywhere, but I couldn’t, because of my record,” he says. “I’d tell them I was arrested for murder, and the case was dismissed, but….”
The Arizona Republic decided his record made him unfit to work in its mailroom. Gas stations and construction jobs didn’t work out, either. He finally got a job at the Arizona Science Center, where he makes $7.50 an hour – not enough to afford a girlfriend or a car to go with the driver’s license he finally got. He’s still good at cards – the only real skill he learned in jail – and he still hopes he’ll go to college.
There are some days he doesn’t think about his ordeal, but there are still too many that he does. He’s suing because he wants some justice.
“I want them to be caught and held accountable for it,” he says.
As he talks, he remembers that he was required to pay the sheriff’s department $1,400, or $1 per day, for being incarcerated on the trumped-up charge. “Can I get that money back?” he asks.
He then laughs at the thought, knowing there’s as much chance of getting a refund on his keep as there is in getting back the four years that Sheriff Joe’s entrapment stole from him.