By Jacob Baynham
PART ONE: THE SHOOTING
The day of Nov. 1, 2002, may have ended without bloodshed in New Albany, Ind., if the mail had come to Cynthia Bogard’s house at the usual time. It typically arrives between 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., but it ran early that day.
An unemployed bartender on disability, Bogard was in her narrow row house on Chartes Street, waiting for her welfare check. The mail arrived around 3:00 p.m., still early enough to cash it before the weekend. She called her friends Lisa and Donald Barnett and asked for a ride to the bank.
Lisa and Donald—everyone called him Ducky, a nickname his father gave him—were over at Bogard’s house earlier that day. Ducky brought $20 worth of crack with him, and the three friends sat and smoked it through a metal pipe, talking as the drug entered their bloodstream and triggered a flood of dopamine in their brains.
When Bogard called, they returned to the house in Ducky’s truck. It was a beat-up grey pickup with a power washer in the bed, a tool Ducky used in his own little pressure washing business. They reached Bogard’s house a little after 3:00 p.m.
Half a mile away, Steven Paul and his girlfriend, Noreen Cousins, woke up slowly that day. Neither of them had to work, so they lay in bed watching TV. They’d been dating for a year and a half and were living together at a friend’s house.
The son of an Indian doctor and a university professor, Paul grew up in New York and Florida. He was a part-time painter and was learning to blow glass while studying visual communications at Ivy Tech State College in nearby Sellersburg.
When they got out of bed, they took Paul’s pit bull for a walk, as they did every morning, and decided to drive up to Paul’s uncle’s farmhouse near Pekin, Ind. It was only 25 miles north of New Albany.
Paul liked it up there. He would let his dog run around, visit with his cousins and shoot his handgun at paper targets that went from black to green when they were hit.
At around 3:30 p.m., they got in Paul’s white Ford pickup. It was a nice day, but chilly, so Noreen pulled on a black hooded sweatshirt before they headed out the door. Paul grabbed the guns. He put a .40-caliber Taurus in the glove box for Noreen and tucked his .40-caliber Glock in the right cargo pocket of his pants, where he always kept it.
The gun had 10 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. It had no safety switch. They stopped at Ace Pawn and Loan for a box of 50 cartridges then drove two blocks north on State Street to a liquor store called Bottles Unlimited. They wanted to buy some beer to take with them into the country.
Lisa and Ducky drove Bogard to Marketboy Grocery to cash her check. Then they crossed the Ohio River into Louisville’s West End to buy more crack. Ducky knew the place. They bought three grams, which Lisa stuffed in her bra, and drove back over the Sherman Minton Bridge, a double-decker span from the 1960s that lifts I-64 over the Ohio River, connecting Kentucky and Indiana. The bridge was already filling with traffic. It was Friday afternoon, close to 4:00 p.m., and the weekend was beginning.
Ducky, Lisa and Bogard were planning a weekend of their own. They talked about throwing a little party back in New Albany, playing some cards and kicking back. Bogard suggested they stop at Bottles Unlimited to pick up some drinks. Ducky took the first exit off the bridge, crawled east through three blocks of traffic on Elm Street and pulled into the liquor store lot.
At the same time, Paul and Cousins turned into the lot from State Street. Pulling into facing parking spaces, the trucks almost collided. Paul got out of his vehicle and walked over to Ducky’s truck.
A 36-year-old former football player, Ducky was a big man, 85 pounds Paul’s senior. Paul grinned when he saw Ducky’s size.
“Okay, now you want to smile,” Ducky said. “What are you talking about, of course I’m smiling. You’re smiling, too. It’s a nice day out.”
“All right boy, go in the store then, go on,” Ducky said.
“You almost hit me.”
“Well, we didn’t.”
The exchange was brief and ended with the two shaking hands. Paul never went into Bottles Unlimited, deciding instead to go to a different liquor store up the road. He got back in his truck, pulled onto State Street and circled around the block to get back on Elm, a one-way.
Cousins saw the whole confrontation from inside the truck and began to simmer. She knew Ducky from the neighborhood. Their families knew each other. Ducky was a bully, she said. He smoked a lot of crack. Nothing but trouble.
By the time Paul circled the block to get back on Elm, the simmer had grown to a full boil. They were in the center lane when they approached Bottles Unlimited.
The light was red and traffic slowed to a stop, a dammed stream of idling engines that pooled all the way back to the interstate. As they sat there, waiting for the light to change, Cousins shifted in her seat, leaned halfway out the passenger side window and began shouting obscenities at Ducky who was still seated in his truck.
“You all ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of crack heads,” Cousins yelled.
“Your mammy’s a crack head,” Ducky shot back.