High Times at the Sean Bell Trial (Plus Other April Fool’s Madness)


Missing from the front pages, but given heavy coverage in both papers is the testimony of Sean Bell’s pal Trent Benefield. Benefield was shot three times the night Bell was killed and testified that he had no idea that the people shooting at him were cops.

Benefield gets the “unreliable witness” treatment from columnists Andrea Peyser and Denis Hamill for their respective papers. Benefield admits to being a daily marijuana smoker, and both papers have a field day with it. The “funniest exchange” in the trial yesterday according to the News was this:

“You do smoke marijuana and you did smoke marijuana every day for the last…for the six years prior to this incident?” defense lawyer James Culleton asked.

“I wasn’t counting the years,” Benefield said.

The Post‘s “funniest moment” was:

Asked on a scale of 1 to 10 to rate how much it hurt to be shot, Benefield said, “Fifteen” — prompting chuckles from the gallery.

The Post also highlights Benefield’s marijuana usage with a “HIGH TIMES” section of the sidebar with the “6-year” fact. This would be a good time to note that Benefield is a prosecution witness.

Both papers are heavy with the baseball coverage today, despite the Yankees postponing their home opener because of the weather. (Daily News columnist Bob Raissman has a conspiracy piece today about how the evil overlords at YES network were behind calling the game since a night game means more people watching on TV.) The Post has some wet, disappointed children in the news section, and both papers hailed Johan Santana’s impressive debut as a Met.

The Rivalry Continues Despite neither team playing yesterday, page 3 of the News proclaims, “Stick a cork in it, Boston!” Marie McGovern took a wine expert to an East Village wine bar and had him test the Charity Wines’ Longball Cellars brand. Each wine is named after a ball player, with proceeds from the sale going to that player’s charity. According to unbiased wine expert Paul Grieco, the Yankees varieties were superior to the Boston ones, with Jorge Posada’s 2006 Cabernet coming out on top. No word on the sales figures for the vintages. Stories like this are what tabloids and trash-talking are all about.

Is this an April Fool’s Joke? The Post publishes a Times of London report that researchers in Britain have found an evolutionary reason for menopause: the battle between mother-in-laws and wives. According to the article, the scarcity of food 50,000-300,000 years ago meant that older women “avoided competition” from their daughters-in-law by not breeding and taking care of the grandchildren instead. This may have kick-started the menopause process.

You can check out anytime you like, but can you leave? The Post reports that Bellevue may become a luxury hotel. The famous mental ward has housed such disparate personalities as Edie Sedgwick, Norman Mailer and John Lennon’s assassin, Mark David Chapman.

“Jack’s a sea-soned actor” (Post photo of Jack Nicholson swimming. Points for the “whose inner-tube belly might pass as a flotation device” in the caption.)

“Oh, No Jew Don’t” (Post article on Woody Allen’s $10 million suit against American Apparel for using a still from Annie Hall of Allen dressed as a rabbi on a billboard without his permission.)