Thursday, June 18, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Mel!

Ex MLB Player Gets 45 Years in Prison
Posted Jun 16, 2009 9:06 PM
By SCHUYLER DIXON
(AP)

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 16) -- Former major league outfielder Mel Hall was sentenced to 45 years in prison Wednesday after being convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl and sexually abusing or inappropriately touching three girls.

Hall, 48, looked skyward and swayed back and forth as the verdict was read. One of his two daughters who testified on his behalf during the punishment phase sobbed as the reality of the sentence set in.

Jurors reached the verdict on the punishment after about an hour of deliberating. They took about 90 minutes Tuesday to convict Hall on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. He must serve about 22 1/2 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.

After the verdict was announced, prosecutor Kim D’Avignon read a brief statement on behalf of the 12-year-old victim and other of Hall’s accusers.

"We believe that the verdict does on some level show that the jury understood,"

D'Avignon said. "They looked in these girls’ eyes and said this is worth 40 years and we agree with them."

The defense had argued in the sentencing phase of the trial that Hall was a good man who mentored a lot of athletes and had a lot of good still to do.

"For all the good this man has done in his life, it seems like this was an excessive verdict," defense attorney Brady Wyatt said after the verdict.

The prosecution’s final witness during the punishment phase testified that she was 14 when Hall touched her inappropriately and told her he wanted to have sex with her. Late Tuesday, two women testified Hall sexually assaulted them when they were underage.

On Wednesday, a woman testified that Hall was her softball coach when, during an end-of-season pool party, he made lewd noises and grabbed her around the waist.

"He just grabbed me how I thought was inappropriate," said the woman, now 19. She said Hall also would watch her take batting practice and make crude comments and tell her he wanted to have sex with her.

Hall’s ex-wife and two daughters testified on his behalf.

"My dad would not do that," said his daughter, Bianca Hall, who had to stop to compose herself throughout her emotional testimony.

Hall, who had been stoic and unemotional throughout most of the trial that began Monday, smiled and nodded as his daughter spoke of their relationship. When she become emotional while describing how much she loved and trusted him, Hall bit his lip and looked away.

During the trial this week, witnesses testified that Hall was impressed with the 12-year-old girl’s talent and wanted to start a basketball team. The woman testified that Hall exposed himself to her and her younger brother at home, when their parents were away. The boy testified that he thought they were playing a game and never told his parents.

"I trusted him," the woman testified. "I honestly had no idea anything was inappropriate at the time. I looked up to him. I just thought this is how normal people act."

Hall’s interaction with the girl progressed to inappropriate touching and him showing her how to perform oral sex, she testified. She said he also showed her pornographic movies at an apartment Hall shared with his girlfriend and their infant son.

The two women who testified Tuesday told similar stories of how he won their parents’ trust and then charmed the young girls.

One said she was 15 and Hall was in his first season with the New York Yankees when the abuse began in 1989. The other testified that she was a 14-year-old basketball teammate of the 12-year-old victim when she was raped in 1999. Hall has been charged in that case.

Hall’s 13-year major league career ended in 1996. He hit .276 with 134 home runs and 620 RBIs in a career that included stints with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians,
Yankees and San Francisco Giants. He also played four years in Japan.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.