References to these images will be found in the chapter in Aggravated titled, The Night of the Rodeo.
For those of you who have never seen a standard-shift four-on-the floor, this was the gear pattern in the small Ford Courier that Steve gave Rhonda Bresnick and Hanna a ride home from the rodeo in. Each time Steve shifted into 2nd, 4th, or reverse, his hand would have been fairly close to Hanna’s knee, since she was sitting in the middle.
This is a horrible quality picture. It was one of the defense exhibits in the second trial, and it had been photocopied several times before I got it. Cleveland Sanford, Steve’s attorney for the second trial, showed it to Rhonda when she was on the stand. The shiny oval thing touching the seat and the gearshift is a quarter. It’s balanced on its end, held in place by the gearshift. Rhonda agreed with Sanford that the gearshift was very close to the seat. It would have been in 2nd, 4th, or reverse gear when the picture was taken.
This was another picture Sanford showed to Rhonda. In this one, a 36-inch yardstick has been placed on the bench seat of that same truck. Rhonda agreed that the seat wasn’t much bigger than that, and that the three of them were sitting side-by-side on that seat.
This is a picture of the water tower. When Steve, Hanna, and Rhonda stopped to see it, in 2003, it was about to be decommissioned and replaced. He let them go inside and explained that it held a million gallons, which was a weight of 8,336,000 pounds. He checked to make sure everything was secure (because it overflowed sometimes), and then they left. He had also taken Robin and Beau and Marri to see it. Hanna said “that place was awesome,” and “there was an amazing echo in there.”
The green line on the map shows the route Steve took from the rodeo grounds to the tower. The small red dots represent street lamps they drove past on the way. You might want to have these maps open in a browser if you can, so you can use them to follow the route as I describe it in the book. Three more maps follow.
This map begins with the water tower, and follows the route east and then northeast toward the Ritter Highway. The first Darkness Zone I talk about in the book began just after they left FM 29 for FM 1517.
This map continues the drive on the Ritter Highway (US 179) to The Split, then takes US 373 to the town of Alderson, where Hanna lived. Look at all those lights in the city of Bloom and inside Alderson.
This is a closer map of Alderson. Some of what Hanna said happened after they got there could make more sense with this map in front of you, but I doubt it.
Beau and I have driven the roads in and out of Alderson, looking for the deep ditch that Hanna said Steve pulled off into so they could park. This shallow depression was about the deepest we could find. A little further out, there were some deeper depressions, but they were all located on the edges of culverts. If Steve had driven into any of them, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the Courier out without a tow truck. I believe that Hanna’s ditch only existed in her imagination.
Next up, images for the night of Beau’s 21st birthday party.
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