When hope was sinking in dismay,
When glooms obscured Columbia's day,
His steady mind, from changes free,
Resolved on death or liberty.Joseph Hopkinson
(National Anthem Until 1931 When Replaced by The Star Spangled Banner)
This week, we head over to Livingston County in Western New York, about an hour and 45-minute drive west from Syracuse and 5 and a half hours northwest from Manhattan. NASA astronaut, James C. Adamson, grew up in Geneseo, Livingston’s county seat. He was aboard the eighth flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia that launched on August 8,1989 and traveled 2.1 million miles during 81 orbits of the Earth, before landing on runway 17 of Edwards Air Force Base, California, on August 13. Space Shuttle Columbia was named after the American sloop Columbia Rediviva which, from 1787 to 1793, under the command of Captain Robert Gray, explored the US Pacific Northwest and became the first American vessel to circumnavigate the globe.
Columbia is the female personification of the United States. It was also a historical name applied to the Americas and to the New World, and the name taken by Columbia University, and the District of Columbia. Images of the Statue of Liberty (erected in 1886) largely displaced personified Columbia as the female symbol of the United States by around 1920.
Columbia (referencing Christopher Columbus) for those interested in toponymy --- the study of names, has been in use since the 1730s with reference to the thirteen (or more) colonies of British America. Adding the -ia, to Columbus was common in Latin names of countries like Britannia, for example.
Back on Earth – Western New York
Marcus Postell, 22, was killed on the night of November 21. Danielle Allen, his girlfriend, and the daughter of a NY State Police major, was arrested and charged in connection with his death. What follows is the testimony of Danielle’s manslaughter trial:
TESTIMONY OF UPSTAIRS NEIGHBOR
Q. You know Danielle?
A. Very well. Yes. I knew Marcus very well, too.
Q. Did you hear anything on the night of 21 November?
A. Yes, I did. I heard Marcus’s voice.
Q. What did you hear him say?
A. He was screaming…like…pleading. He said, "Don't kill me, please don't kill me.
Q. Did you speak with Marcus before you heard him pleading for his life?
A. I had spoken to him earlier in the day. He had broken up with Danielle and had packed his things. He was waiting for her.
TESTIMONY OF OFFICER FERRARA
Q. Did you receive a dispatch before going to Danielle’s and victim’s home?
A. Yes. I was told by dispatch that Danielle had called 911 saying that she was being attacked, the attacker was in the house, and she was covered in blood.
Q. What do you observe when you arrived?
A. I saw a blanket near blood-soaked carpeting, and I saw Marcus propped against the couch. I walked toward Marcus’s body when Danielle popped up from under the blanket. She was covered in blood.
Q. Where you surprised when Danielle popped up from the blanket?
A. Surprised? It scared the crap out of me!
Q. What did you do next?
A. I went over to check on Marcus. I moved him and I found the weapon under his body.
There was a lot of blood on his body as well as pooled at his side. I then conducted a sweep of the premises to determine whether anyone else might be in the home who could be either a victim or potential suspect. I saw blood spattered all over the apartment, including on the carpet, walls, sofa and bathroom, and upon various objects within the home. I had moved the knife and placed it on a nearby counter, because I knew emergency medical personnel would be arriving to attend to Marcus, and I was afraid they might be injured by the knife.
Q. With respect to Marcus, did you observe any injuries?
A. I did. He had a puncture wound in the middle of his chest and he had cuts on his hands that are consistent with defense wounds against a sharp object.
Q. What about Danielle?
A. She was incoherent. EMS transported her to the hospital for treatment of her injuries.
TESTIMONY OF DANIELLE
Q. What were you discussing with Marcus before everything happened?
A. We were both drinking heavily, you know? We were breaking up and he just got wild.
A. Marcus threw me up against the kitchen wall and hit me with his right fist across my left eye. I broke free and ran away from him, while grabbing a kitchen knife because I just wanted him to stay away from me.
Q. Then what happened?
A. Marcus ran after me, he grabbed me, and threw me onto the couch in the living room. I was the one yelling, "Please, don't kill me. Why are you doing this? Please don't kill me." Then Marcus pinned my arms down with his knees, and he grabbed my throat. I couldn’t breathe. I started rocking back and forth like my dad taught me and I got my arm loose.
Q. What did you do when you got your arm loose?
A. I stabbed Marcus. One time. I stabbed him.
Q. I am showing you some photographs, okay?
A. Okay. That is a picture of me when I got to the hospital. That’s me with a black eye and bruising on my throat. And that one shows my left hand where I got 13 stitches. And there’s the bruising on the right side of her face from when Marcus punched me.
Q. Okay, I know this is a little strange, but what is being brought into the courtroom now is a couch. Okay…they are placing right here so the jury can see. Do you recognize this couch?
A. Well, it looks different because of all the stains…but that is the couch from our living room. We were sitting on that couch when we started arguing…Are we almost finished, I am not feeling too well…
CLOSING ARGUMENT BY THE DEFENSE
People of the jury, I know that this has not been an easy case for you and that you have a difficult job ahead of you. Danielle’s injuries are consistent with a person who had been choked, who has been attacked by someone trying to kill her. Danielle was in fear for her life. The knife was the only thing between her and death at the hands of her boyfriend. This is not a case of a scorned girlfriend. If she was that mad...you'd see multiple stab wounds. She was not out of control, she did not kill him for no reason. She killed him or he fell on the knife because she was trying to protect herself. When you deliberate about the evidence you have seen and the testimony you have heard, I am confident that you will find Danielle NOT GUILTY.
CLOSING ARGUMENT BY THE PROSECUTION
Danielle recklessly stabbed Marcus in a fit of rage and intoxication. He wanted to be free of her. He wanted his freedom. He knew Danielle, about her temper, her drinking. Marcus had broken up with Danielle and packed his things. Marcus was sitting on the love seat that you saw in court right over here that was in Danielle’s apartment when she ambushed him with a foot long kitchen knife. She didn't choose to wave this knife and cut his arm, wave this knife and say stay away.... she put it in the kill zone and she got him. Remember the last words heard by the neighbor upstairs, Please…Don’t…Kill me! The last words uttered by Marcus the night he was stabbed in the chest and died. Marcus paid the ultimate price for his liberty. Danielle must pay the price for her rage, her unwillingness to let Marcus be free.
We the jury find the defendant, Danielle Allen, guilty of second degree manslaughter.
Danielle, being found GUILTY, will serve 3-9 years in prison. Upheld on the first-level appeal. It may be appealed to the Court of Appeals.
… death or liberty.Hail Columbia