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Where Mercy Is Shown Mercy Is Given
By DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN Laura Morton
HYPERIONCopyright © 2010 Dog TBH, Corporation
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOctober 31, 2007
Duane, Duane. Big Daddy, wake up. You're dreaming again." Beth gently shook me as she often does when I have a nightmare. It took me a second to realize I was safe.
Hell, it took me a second to realize that I was still alive.
I'd been having a lot of bad dreams lately. I get scared once in a while, especially when things are going good. I was enjoying the success of my first book, You Can Run, but You Can't Hide, which debuted number one on the New York Times bestseller list. The charges against me in Mexico for the capture of Andrew Luster were about to be dropped, and my show on A&E was enjoying great success. When things are going like that, I often wonder if I will wake up someday and realize it was all a dream.
There's some deep hidden fear inside me that all of my hard work and perseverance don't mean squat-that it could go away in the flash of a moment. When I let my thoughts go there, I try to snap myself out of it so I don't dwell on the negative, but rather focus on the positive-all the good things in my life that surround me. Ever since I went to prison in Mexico, I've frequently had terrible dreams of doing bad things like robbing a bank or, worse, killing someone. When I wake up after having one of those dreams, I have to remind myself, You didn't commit that felony. It was only a dream. You're the Dog! You don't kill people, you help them. It'll be OK.
Thankfully, I didn't kill Magic that day in Boulder, but I could have. What actually happened was that I did take a shot at him, but I purposely shot too low. I missed the front of his bike by an eighth of an inch. I saw my bullet ricochet off the pavement. I don't know why I pulled my gun at all, but I guess I just wanted to show off. Or maybe I wanted Magic to know he couldn't ... or shouldn't mess with me.
I didn't want anyone to know I had chickened out and purposely missed, because that went against everything I was as a Disciple. The Lord was right. There is a fine line between success and failure. I walked it for years. I have been to the edge many times, but I'm no killer. Never was, never will be. Even so, ever since Mexico, I keep having those dreams and they scare the living hell out of me.
For those of you who might not know about the Andrew Luster situation, here's a quick overview of what happened. In the summer of 2003, Tim "Youngblood" Chapman, my son Leland, and I went to Mexico to track down Andrew Luster, the heir to the Max Factor family fortune. Luster was arrested in 2000 suspected of eighty-seven counts of rape and was standing trial in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles.
Luster was considered a wealthy playboy who spent his days surfing off the beaches of Southern California and his nights partying at his beachfront home or college bars in Santa Barbara. He was a complete womanizer with $31 million in the bank to support his party-boy lifestyle.
Beth and I were flying from Honolulu to Los Angeles on January 5, 2003, when twenty minutes into the flight Beth woke me up to show me the headline from the Los Angeles Times:
HEIR TO MAX FACTOR FORTUNE MAY HAVE JUMPED MILLION-DOLLAR BAIL
By the time our plane landed in L.A., Luster was officially on the run. He failed to show up for his court date. He had removed his court-ordered ankle monitor two days prior and hadn't been heard from since. By the time we deplaned, he'd been declared a fugitive and a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
We knew finding Luster would be a challenge, which made hunting him all the more interesting. Beth took the reins to make sure we did everything by the book. She also was intent on seeing to it that we all really understood who we were chasing. We viewed Luster to be an arrogant, rude, opinionated, and egotistical punk. But we had to be careful because his family was rich and powerful, which meant they had friends in high places.
To find a fugitive, you have to think and act like him. You have to understand his needs, desires, strengths, and weaknesses. You have to know everything about the person you're looking for. Who is he? Who is his family? Who are his friends? Where does he hang out? More information means greater insight into the mind of the man you're chasing.
On January 15, 2003, Andrew Luster was charged with flight to avoid prosecution. That put him on the FBI's Most Wanted list. It also made him "Dog's Most Wanted." I went up to Ventura County Court to get a copy of the warrant. I told the court clerk who I was and said, "I'm the guy who is going to capture Andrew Luster." As charming as I thought I was, she told me to wait in the corridor while she went to talk to Judge Riley, the judge who was presiding over the case. When she came back, she handed me a copy of the warrant, Luster's mug shots, and a personal message from the judge.
"He said, 'Good luck,' Dog."
On February 18, 2003, a jury found Andrew Luster guilty of eighty-six of the eighty-seven criminal charges against him. The jury was deadlocked on one count of poisoning. These convictions were enough to get Luster 124 years in jail and he was sentenced in absentia.
By the time he was convicted, Luster had been on the run for more than a month. He might have changed his appearance and begun living under a new identity. He could have been thousands of miles away or right under my nose. I had no idea where he was, but I knew I would find him.
Months of research and investigation went by before all signs pointed me toward Mexico. I took a giant leap of faith, as did my son Leland and Tim "Youngblood" Chapman, and we headed for the border. On June 18, 2003, we finally got our guy in Puerto Vallarta.
I wrestled him to the ground, cuffed him, stood up, and said, "You are under arrest in the name of the United States government and Mexico!"
We took Luster into custody so that we could hand him over to the Mexican police. The station was only a couple blocks away from where we'd captured that son of a bitch. On the way, we were pulled over by the Mexican police and ordered to get out of our truck. I didn't want to move. I had the fugitive in my grips, and nothing was going to stop me from handing him over to the proper authorities-nothing, except a bunch of Mexican police officers pointing machine guns at me.
I tried to explain that I was Dog Chapman and the man in custody was Andrew Luster, who was wanted in America. When they asked Luster his name, he replied, "David Carrera." That was the name he'd been living under while he was on the run. Luster started speaking Spanish. He told the police officers we had kidnapped him, that he was the victim.
I knew this couldn't be good. As they began to uncuff him, I pleaded with the officers, telling them they were making a huge mistake. They took us all to the station to get confirmation of the story. Despite Luster's story being bogus, the authorities decided to throw Leland, Tim, and me in a cell until our story could be verified.
I had walked out of the Texas State Penitentiary almost a quarter century earlier. I promised God I would never go back to jail. From the moment I left Huntsville, having served eighteen months on a bunk murder-one rap, I had dedicated myself to living a good clean life. No more crimes. My number one purpose as a bounty hunter has been to serve truth and justice. I swore I would never hear the sound of the steel door slam shut and lock behind me again. Now here I was, sitting in a Mexican prison, with thin steel bars between me and freedom. My heart ached from the thought of being back in hell. And I was scared, too. The next day, we were told that the boys and I were being charged with kidnapping. I was nauseous at the thought that we could all go down for twenty, years for capturing a rapist. Even though we'd done everything by the book, at the time it was Luster's word against ours.
Within a couple of days, Luster was sent back to America to serve his sentence, while the boys and I remained locked up for two weeks. Unable to make the kidnapping charges stick, the judge charged us with "deprivation of liberty," a paltry misdemeanor. We were released from jail but were told to stay in Mexico to appear in court for that charge.
While we were waiting for our court date, my Mexican lawyer told me there was a rumor around Puerto Vallarta that some guys connected to Andrew Luster were in town looking for me. My lawyer had heard they were flashing around a lot of money to influence certain people in the Mexican legal system to reinstate the kidnapping charges. He also told me he'd heard there was a hit man looking for me, too. His professional legal advice was to flee. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of running. Even though I was staying at the Westin and was out of jail, I was still under house arrest. If I ran, I'd be a Mexican fugitive for the rest of my life. I didn't want that hanging over my head, and besides, I've always said, "This blood don't run." I was the guy who chased fugitives. I wasn't about to become one. But the alternative was to stay in Mexico until my case went to trial. It could be six weeks, six months, or six years before that happened. No one knew for sure.
I thought long and hard about what my lawyer was saying. He told me I was as good as dead if I stayed. That's when I realized he was probably right. It was time to leave Mexico. I was assured that the misdemeanor charge was nonextraditable, so if I somehow made it over the border, there was no way I'd ever be sent back.
I called Beth to let her know we had concocted a plan, but I had to be cryptic in my explanation because I was certain that the feds were recording all of our calls. She understood what I was telling her, even though no one else who might have been listening could have. The boys and I packed up our stuff, loaded it into a rented van, and headed out as if we were going sightseeing for the day. I tried to act cool, but deep down I was scared to death. If we got caught, we'd be doing a lot more time than we were already facing. Thankfully, we were able to make it over the border without anyone catching on. I fell to my knees when I realized I was back in America. I looked up and saw the largest, most beautiful American flag waving above me. I was flee, blessed, safe, loved, relieved, and very lucky. I kissed the ground beneath me. Thank God, I was home.
I had been counting on receiving at least $300,000 in compensation for capturing Luster. I'd funded the apprehension of this criminal with my own money under the assumption that I'd be entitled to recoup my cost plus a fee for his return to justice.
Unfortunately, the money never came through. When I went to collect my fees from the state, Judge Brodie, the judge who was now overseeing the reward case in Ventura County, California, said he wouldn't give it to me because I broke the law in Mexico. He was duped into believing the allegations against me because of a document he had been given that had been signed by twenty-five hundred California bail agents expressing their displeasure with me and my conduct. Although the judge believed the document was authentic, it was not. An administrative person at the California Bond Agents Association offered up the letter without the consent of the organization's members, making it look like the entire association was against me.
The judge persisted in his belief that I was a wanted man in Mexico and therefore wasn't entitled to a dime. He told me that he wouldn't "condone my vigilante tactics." I couldn't believe the judge saw me as a vigilante. It broke my heart that my good deed and pursuit of justice were being misconstrued. I was one of the good guys, and yet here I was being painted as a criminal for something I had done for my country, the state of California, and Ventura County. Let's be honest. No one-not one single person but this old dog-went out of their way to search for and capture Luster. Where was the crime in that?
I want to believe that Judge Brodie would have ruled differently if he had been given a brief from our attorney that would have clearly outlined how I'd captured Luster, why I expected to get paid, and the case law that supported my claim. We didn't face any objections from the district attorney, so the hearing should have been a walk in the park. We used a very high-profile lawyer who we expected would work his magic on this pretty straightforward case. Man, were we mistaken. When it came time to go in front of the judge, our superstar lawyer was ill-prepared, didn't know the facts of the case, hadn't read a single document before the hearing, and presented our story all wrong, even claiming Beth had posted the bond on Luster, which she hadn't. When the judge began asking our attorney questions, he got all flustered, fumbled around, and blew it for us. We were destroyed in court.
Somewhere in the middle of the judge's "holier than thou" speech that day, Beth and I stood up, grabbed each other's hand, and turned our backs on him as we walked out of the courtroom. I didn't understand his anger toward me. I had just spent my life savings helping the United States government capture one of their most wanted fugitives and all I got was a lecture on my conduct? It was absurd. No one wanted to pay me for the work I had done. America's Most Wanted didn't pay, Crime Stoppers didn't pay, and now Ventura County wouldn't pay us. The FBI didn't pay us either. All of the rewards that had been offered for Luster were jive. We had nothing and would get nothing.
What little money we had left was constantly going toward our legal expenses and to put food on the table for my family. We were flat broke, living hand-to-mouth, literally surviving by writing one bond at a time and living hand-to-mouth with each one. We'd write a bond and pay a bill. Write a bond, buy some groceries. Write a bond, pay our rent. We owed thousands of dollars on our cell phones because of roaming charges we'd racked up in Mexico. It was terrible. We were seriously behind in all of our expenses, and whatever money we did have was going to our lawyers.
During those months of scraping by, our financial stress was so bad that even the power to our house was shut off several times. The last time they shut us off, all of the fish in my aquarium died. I was devastated. Anyone who has ever had fish knows what it's like to come home to find them floating upside down. I stared at that tank for an hour before I could bring myself to scoop the poor guys out.
We had no money to speak of until December 24, 2003, when A&E came through with a deal for our television show. They gave us a small down payment of twenty-five thousand dollars to get us through the holidays. That was the only sliver of money we had seen since before my capture of Luster earlier that summer. Although the twenty-five grand was a lot of money, we were so far behind on everything that it didn't make much of a dent in our debt.
As we began filming the first season of Dog the Bounty Hunter; the excitement I had from finally having my own television series was offset by my constant fear that I could be sent back to Mexico at any moment. I was scared to death because I felt there was nothing I could do about my situation but wait it out and put my absolute trust and faith in the Lord, my lawyers, and the judicial system. At the time, the Lord was the only thing I knew, without any doubt, I could truly trust. The lawyers and the system were still very much in question.
Chapter TwoThe impact of what happened in Mexico was hard on the entire family. It took all of us some time to adjust. But after nearly three years, we had gotten back to living life as usual.
Everything seemed fine until the morning of September 14, 2006. That was when a team of federal marshals stormed my home in Hawaii and arrested me for kidnapping Andrew Luster. As far as I knew, the kidnapping charges were never reinstated in Mexico. The idea of the United States government arresting me for a crime I didn't commit and wasn't even being charged with was absurd beyond my wildest dreams.
It was so crazy that for a moment, I thought I was being Punk'd.
But I wasn't.
Excerpted from Where Mercy Is Shown Mercy Is Given by DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN Laura Morton Copyright © 2010 by Dog TBH, Corporation. Excerpted by permission.
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