Search Warrant
Adair County Oklahoma
In 1982 a burglary investigation took us into Oklahoma and a stolen horse trailer broke the case wide open.  From a neighbor's field on the backside of the property and from a distance I took photos of the horse trailer showing the Arkansas License Plate proving the trailer belongs to our burglary victim and we used my photo to obtain a search warrant in Oklahoma to look for the rest of the stolen property.  We found that property and a lot more stolen property from burglaries in four states. 

The day of trial in Oklahoma the defense lawyer on cross was pressing me about where I was standing when I took the photograph of the stolen horse trailer showing clearly the Arkansas Vehicle License plate.  Everything hinged on my photograph of that horse trailer and his argument was I had to be standing on the defendant's property and not his neighbor's property because a camera could not take such a photo from the distance of the neighbor's property line and if he could get the judge and jury to believe that I had taken the photo while standing on the defendant's property then the search warrant application would be based in illegally obtained information and all the evidence would have to be excluded and the suspect would go free.  I told the truth, I was standing on the neighbor's property, I used a 1000 mm lens then blew up the image in my darkroom producing the print that clearly showed the numbers on the Arkansas Vehicle License plate still on the back of the stolen horse trailer.  The judge broke for lunch and when we returned it would be the prosecutor's time to rebut anything the defense attorney had tried to bring out in his questioning of me.

In the days of the trial before I testified, I had been showing around the prosecutors office a photo I took of the moon the weekend before so after a lunch break and before going into court the prosecutor asked me for my photo that I took of the moon.  I was puzzled but I dug it out of my brief case and gave it to him.

The court came to order, I was recalled to the witness stand and the Adair County Oklahoma Prosecutor produced my moon photo and asked me if I recognized it.  "Yes, that is a photo I took of the moon last weekend", I said.  "Tell me officer O'Kelley, where were you standing when you took this photo", the prosecutor asked me.   "In my front yard of my home in Fayetteville Arkansas", I said.  "You weren't standing on the moon", he asked.  "No", I replied.  He then showed me my photo already in evidence of the horse trailer and asked, "did you use the same camera and lens to take this photo of the horse trailer"?  "Yes", I said.  "No further questions of this witness", the prosecutor said.  I was excused and when the trial was over the jury found the defendant guilty and he received 20 years in the Oklahoma prison and everything hinged upon my photograph of the horse trailer and of the moon.  In the court records of that Oklahoma trial will be found evidence that I took a photograph of the moon and it became critical evidence in a felony trial. 

I have left my footprints in this world and in a great many places.  I have tried to make a different not just in my life and the lives of my family but in the lives of total strangers and as my wife sometimes points out to me, I was well compensated financially for my efforts but I was compensated in the knowledge that I did the sometimes difficult and made a positive difference in the lives of others.  I have no doubt there are people who are alive today because of my efforts so when I lay my head on my pillow at night, I can go to sleep knowing that I did my part to better human kind, to make the life better for a total stranger and that is considerable compensation.