[Note from Eric: The headline in my post is not the one from the AP
feed. I changed it to make some sense in the archive. The actual
headline is below.]
Senior citizen, sentenced to probation, gets a thumbs-up in court
Associated Press, 12-15-04
ST. PAUL - A retiree who tussled with a man half his age who was using
foul language in a restaurant was sentenced to probation, but he got a
thumbs-up from attorneys and others who sympathized with his motives.
Bill Stevenson, 79, of Lake Elmo, pleaded guilty to one count of
disorderly conduct Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court, and judge
Paulette Flynn placed him on three months of probation.
"I think I could've won my case by going to trial, with a sympathetic
jury," said Stevenson. "I've had over 30 calls and letters and e-mails,
and I've not had one negative call. They're all on my side."
Stevenson and another retired 3M engineer, Sten Gerfast, 74,
confronted the man July 15 at Bruegger's Bagels in the Sun Ray
Shopping Center. The two retirees were going over a design Gerfast
had invented when Jesse Tabor, of Minneapolis, entered the bakery with
his 13-year-old daughter.
In an interview after the incident, Tabor, 40, said he was talking on
his cell phone with a man whose home he was remodeling and said he
didn't recall cursing. But Stevenson and Gerfast remember it
"He was using the F-word against this guy he was talking to,"
Stevenson said. "There was an argument on the phone. The third time he
walked by our booth where Mr. Gerfast and I were trying to design
something, Mr. Gerfast said to me, 'Should I do something about it?'
I thought a moment and thought, 'What can you do in a case like this?'
I didn't know what you could do."
So Gerfast, of Mendota Heights, decided to confront Tabor. He tapped
him on the shoulder and asked him to take his call outside, Stevenson
said, but Tabor said something like, "This is none of your business."
"It was only when he used the words, 'you f-ing bastard' -- it was
yelled across the bagel shop so everybody heard it -- that I started
walking up to him," Stevenson said. "Then he said 'you f-ing a-hole"
and that really bothered me. I've been in lots of different places,
but when I heard that kind of stuff coming in my hometown, I thought,
'Somebody's got to do something.' "
Stevenson grabbed the phone from Tabor and the two men played
tug-of-war for a few seconds. Stevenson realized it was a dumb thing
to do, let go of the phone and Tabor "went sailing across the floor,"
The three men with charged with disorderly conduct. Gerfast was
acquitted in a court trial last month. Tabor, who has previous
convictions for criminal sexual conduct and drug possession, failed to
appear at a September hearing and a bench warrant was issued for him.
Attempts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.
[Note from Eric: This item came up on a local (Minneapolis) talk radio
station today. The talk show host was able to get Sten Gerfast on the
phone. It turns out Gerfast was the mechanical engineer on 3M's tape
drive backup system some years back, among over two dozen other
patents to his name under 3M.]