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Jeannie Van Velkingburgh was standing at a Denver bus stop in 1997 when two skinheads she later described as “wannabe men” began harassing Oumar Dia, a Senegalese immigrant and restaurant worker. Approaching Dia to return a hat the “men” had knocked from his head, VanVelkingburgh was caught in a hail of gunfire that killed Dia and left her paralyzed. The only witness who identified the gunman’s accomplice, Jeremiah Barnum, VanVelkingburgh vented her rage by shouting at him during her testimony. She also failed to hide her contempt for his lawyer. Now, the judge in the case has thrown out the jury’s guilty verdict, ruling that her testimony was “too emotional.” Imagine that you’re never getting out of the chair up there behind your bench and that the reason is because you tried to do an insignificant but decent thing for one of the victims who appear in your court each day – how calm are you, Your Honor?

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