Basketball stabbing leads to a series of events that end in felony conviction for McFarland man
By: By George Hesselberg, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
MCFARLAND -- Dave Reshan was standing in his striped boxer shorts at the sink doing the dishes March 31 when a sheriff's deputy knocked on the door of Reshan's 40-year-old trailer to arrest him for attacking a basketball with a screwdriver.
At 61, Reshan is now a felon facing eviction. His guns and $18,000 were confiscated. And as a felon, he won't be spending his retirement hunting as he had planned.
This is what happened after Reshan got arrested.
"I'm no angel, but I'm no criminal either," insists Reshan today.
The record says otherwise, and he admits, grudgingly, he has only himself to blame.
Reshan is big -- 6 feet 2 inches, 280 pounds with a belly that renders him more avuncular than fearsome -- and has lived for 13 years in a little trailer in Bayview Heights, a gathering of neatly-tended mobile homes of diverse vintage just off Highway 51, south of McFarland.
Reshan has ailments partly attributed to a lifetime of hard physical labor and, early on, zealous avoidance of moderation in anything. However, he said he hasn't had a drink in two decades and tries to keep to himself. He takes medicine for depression and for a bad stomach, and his jaw and his back ache constantly.
On March 22, a Sunday afternoon, in addition to the arthritis that makes him go "oooof" whenever he sits down and "uummmmm" whenever he stands up, Reshan was fighting a sinus infection.
His trailer, which has two-inch walls, is parked about eight feet from the road.
"I could hear a bird fart outside," he said.
He had asked the neighborhood children to play at the playground, not in the road.
But that Sunday they were in the road, bouncing a pink basketball owned by an 11-year-old girl.
"It just kept bouncing, and bouncing, and bouncing," recalled Reshan, his voice rising.
Finally, he grabbed a long Phillips screwdriver and approached the girl and, before taking the ball, said "you are really starting to annoy me."
He then stabbed it, four times.
Then he said: "Oh look, the basketball is not screwdriver resistant." She cried and called her dad on her cell phone.
Events set into motion
Though Reshan later that day went to the Bayview management to admit he made a mistake and offered to pay for the basketball, a series of events was set into motion.
The father, Donald Boettcher, first calmed his distraught daughter and then went over to talk with Reshan.
"I had never met the guy, I still wouldn't recognize him if we meet on the street," Boettcher said.
"I went over to see if there was a problem, if my daughter did anything to make him mad, but he wouldn't come out and talk with me. The third time I went to the door I said, 'If you don't come to the door, I am going to call the cops.'"
Reshan didn't, so Boettcher did.
A Dane County Sheriff's deputy took down the particulars, and, like Boettcher, also tried unsuccessfully to contact Reshan.
It was nine days later, after receiving no response to knocking on the door or leaving a card, that on March 31 a deputy returned. The deputy, noting in his report Reshan's size and muscularity, was there to arrest him for disorderly conduct and destruction of property.
Looking in the front door past Reshan, the deputy saw a .22 caliber single-shot rifle leaning against the wall. Sniffing in the front door, the deputy smelled "raw marijuana," he would write in his report.
"I'm in my skivvies, he whips the door open, he sniffs, and I had smoked a joint three hours earlier," Reshan recalled.
There is an element of "he said, he said" to accounts of what happened next, but the deputy entered the trailer and Reshan commented on the unfairness of the basketball incident being elevated to arrest warrant status. He also volunteered that he smoked two joints daily to ease his pains and that, in an attempt to become self-sufficient and "not feed the Mexican cartels," he has for the past few years grown his own.
"Meanwhile this dude is talking into his collar," Reshan said.
Facing a large man wanted for temperamental behavior, smelling of raw weed and in possession of visible weapons, reinforcements were en route in the form of more deputies, "Utrix," a drug-sniffing dog, and a search warrant. Reshan was arrested, double-handcuffed and taken to jail.
Prefers being alone
Reshan admits to preferring a solitary existence: "I like people, to a point."
A Racine foundry worker for 10 years, he also trained and worked for 10 years as a chef and as a maintenance man for a low-income housing project. He has a 1982 Harley in the shed and is the sort of guy who would bring out his collection of knives -- one fashioned from a lawn mower blade by a fellow foundry worker -- if a visitor hinted any interest.
Deputies found (rather, Reshan showed them) small containers of marijuana and five marijuana plants in his trailer, where he had hooked up an 8-foot by 9-foot growing room. They also found the growing equipment, about a dozen guns and rifles in a locked gun safe and on his bed stand (including an AK-47 he got from his uncle), a Taser and a switchblade knife.
And $18,000 cash, in hundreds.
All of which earned Reshan -- in addition to the misdemeanors associated with the basketball attack -- charges of maintaining a drug trafficking place, manufacture and delivery of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver (all felonies), and two misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
"I was supposed to be a drug kingpin with my five (expletive) plants?" Reshan asked, incredulous that anyone would consider his harvest of value to more than one person.
By August, after several court appearances and a switch in prosecutors, Reshan accepted a deal, pleading no contest and being found guilty of one marijuana-related felony, sentenced to 18 months of probation, and ordered to get drug and alcohol treatment if necessary. (Reshan maintained that he didn't sell marijuana and that helped his case.)
An identical, concurrent sentence was issued for the misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction.
Reshan's lawyer, Mark Frank, filed requests to have the money returned. The cash, Reshan said, is money he got from his mother after his father died, and he conceded the blunder of keeping it at home. It was returned in September.
A low-income weatherization program dropped plans to insulate his trailer because of media reports of his arrest.
Reshan received an eviction notice from the trailer court management, based on his maintaining a drug house, a charge that was dismissed. Since then, he has sold his trailer for $9,000.
"What little credibility I had in life, not being a felon was part of it," he said.
He gets no sympathy from Boettcher, the father of the girl he scared: "The guy is old enough that he should know better."
Since April, Reshan has tested free of illegal drugs, including marijuana. The court ordered him to get anger management therapy and he doesn't expect to recover his handguns and AK-47, though a hearing is set for December to get his other belongings returned.
What was not listed on any search warrant as confiscated was the screwdriver.
-- Copyright (c) 2009, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.