Thursday, August 17, 2006

Death Cab In Lakeview

While the world reels from the developments in the JonBenet case, we have our own murder trial in Chicago that’s caught my attention. Here’s the scenario: On February 4, 2005 a man takes a short late night cab ride to an affluent residential area in Chicago. He is employed by the City of Chicago as a communications specialist for the Public Health Department. He is also apparently HIV positive, and to make things weirder, is named Michael Jackson. The fare is $8. During the cab ride, something happens. Tempers flare, and an argument ensues outside the man’s residence. Screaming turns to physical confrontation and during the scuffle the cab driver, Haroon Paryani, is thrown to the ground. The man flees the scene in the cab and runs over the cab driver, at least twice, before striking a parked car. The cab driver is killed.

As the trial began this week, Jackson claims his life was in danger the moment he entered the cab. Paryani drove erratically, verbally attacked his sexual orientation and religion and tried to strike him while driving when he questioned the route and the fare. When he refused to pay the fare, a fight ensued; Paryani threatened his life, he struck the driver in self defense, and tried to flee in the cab for his own safety, not realizing Paryani was in the way. Defense lawyers claim the driver had a history of belligerent behavior towards passengers. Several eyewitnesses describe the deliberate way in which Jackson entered the cab, accelerated and repeatedly ran over the driver. The prosecution of course paints Jackson as an enraged, drunken aggressor.

How things can go so awry in such a short time is amazing to me. An $8 cab ride can’t be more than 15 minutes. Yet, it was enough time for pure unadulterated rage to boil to the surface. “The state is suggesting that Jackson went from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. On that day, Jackson got into Mr. Hyde’s cab,” says the defense lawyer. Jekyll and Hyde, Stephen King’s Christine reanimated as a taxi, or just plain old hatred, evil walks amongst us, even in Lakeview.

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More Raconteurs: A live version Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, Cleveland August 6. Not the best quality, if I find a better one I'll post it. More on Death Cab soon.

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