BREVARD, Jan. 19, 2008 Retired Army Green Beret Smokey Taylor got his court martial this weekend and came away feeling good about it.
Taylor, at age 80 the oldest member of Chapter XXXIII of the Special Forces Association, was on trial by his peers under the charge of “failing to use a weapon of sufficient caliber” in the shooting of an intruder at his home in Knoxville, TN, in December.
The entire affair, of course, was very much tongue in cheek.
Taylor had been awakened in the early morning hours of Dec. 17, 2007, when an intruder broke into his home. He investigated the noises with one of his many weapons in hand.
When the intruder threatened him with a knife, Taylor warned him, then brought his .22 caliber pistol to bear and shot him right between the eyes.
“That boy had the hardest head I’ve ever seen,” Taylor said after his trial. “The bullet bounced right off.” The impact knocked the would-be thief down momentarily. He crawled out of the room then got up and ran out the door and down the street. Knoxville police apprehended him a few blocks away and he now awaits trial in the Knox County jail.
The charges against Taylor were considered to be serious. He is a retired Special Forces Weapons Sergeant with extensive combat experience during the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
“Charges were brought against him under the premise that he should have saved the county and taxpayers the expense of a trial,” said Chapter XXXIII President Bill Long of Asheville. “He could have used a .45 or .38. The .22 just wasn’t big enough to get the job done.”
Taylor’s defense attorney, another retired Weapons Sergeant, disagreed. He said Taylor had done the right thing in choosing to arm himself with a .22. “If he’d used a .45 or something like that the round would have gone right through the perp, the wall, the neighbor’s wall and possibly injured some innocent child asleep in its bed,” he said. “I believe the evidence shows that Smokey Taylor exercised excellent judgment in his choice of weapons. He did nothing wrong, and clearly remains to this day an excellent weapons man.” Counsel for the defense then floated a theory as to why the bullet bounced off the perp’s forehead.
“He was victimized by old ammunition,” he said, “just as he was in Korea and again in Vietnam, when his units were issued ammo left over from World War II.” Taylor said nothing in his own defense, choosing instead to allow his peers to debate the matter. After the trial he said the ammunition was indeed old and added the new information that the perp had soiled his pants as he crawled out of the house.
“I would have had an even worse mess to clean up if it had gone through his forehead,” Taylor said. “It was good for both of us that it didn’t.”
Following testimony from both sides, Taylor was acquitted of the charges and was given a round of applause.
Meanwhile, back in Knox County, the word is out: Don’t go messing with Smokey Taylor. He just bought a whole bunch of fresh ammo.