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Johnny Cash song couldn't sway Provo jury

Published March 31, 2011 2:47 pm

Provo • Prosecutor played tune during closing argument.
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Even a mournful ballad from Johnny Cash couldn't sway a Provo jury Tuesday to convict an Orem man on charges of aggravated assault.

Prosecutor Randy Kennard said after the first day of the trial he was thinking about the case and a song popped into his head he couldn't shake — "Don't Take Your Guns to Town."

"I was driving home — and I mean ... I like Johnny Cash," Kennard said. "I just kind of thought that [the song] has a bit of the flavor of this case."

Fidel Ruiz Quintana, 43, was at a friend's house in Orem drinking whiskey in October when an argument over the alcohol with two other men turned physical.

The prosecution alleged Quintana stabbed a man with a knife underneath his chin, slicing the victim's mouth and tongue.

Quintana "got very drunk, was offended" and for "no apparent reason stabbed his friend," Kennard said.

He felt using the lyrics of the song spoke to the prosecution's point — when people are intoxicated they may do things they wouldn't ordinarily do if they were sober.

"Some people who heard [the song] thought it fit well, but at the same time, the jury found we didn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt," Kennard said.

The 4th District Court acquitted Quintana on Tuesday.

Why the country-western ballad?

"Sometimes the legal profession gets a little dry," Kennard said.

The defense enjoyed Kennard's creative approach to the closing argument.

"He did a very good job, " said defense attorney J.C. Wright.

The defense's case revolved around Quintana acting in self-defense.

"One [person] he believed was a gang member and [the other] a former boxer," Wright said. "Those just weren't odds he felt comfortable about."

As for the man who was stabbed, Wright said, "He said he has healed, but sometimes when he speaks in Spanish it causes difficulty."

Before being acquitted, Quintana spent the past five months in jail.

"This was a pretty costly decision for him," Wright said. —

On the Web

Hear the song • http://tinyurl.com/dgnds8 —

Some of the lyrics from 'Don't Take Your Guns to Town'

"He drank his first strong liquor then to calm his shaking hand. And tried to tell himself he had become a man. A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down. And he heard again his mothers words: Don't take your guns to town, son. Leave your guns at home, Bill. Don't take your guns to town."




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