Cave Man Defends Himself In Court

April 09, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Frank Jones, who arrived at Golden Ring Mall in December in a cave man outfit and left in handcuffs, won one and lost one yesterday in Essex District Court.

He was found not guilty of disorderly conduct, but guilty of trespassing. He received one year of unsupervised probation from Judge Darrell Russell after a two-hour hearing, and has to stay out of the mall for an indefinite period.

Maximum sentence on the trespassing charge is 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Mr. Jones went to Golden Ring Mall on Dec. 1 dressed in a cave man outfit, which consisted of a leopard-skin bikini, a cape, and a bone in his hair. His aim was to sit on Santa Claus' knee while his daughter, Maurica Jones, videotaped the scene. Mr. Jones intended to submit the film to "America's Funniest Home Videos," an ABC-TV program that airs on Sunday nights.

Mall security asked him to leave because he "wasn't properly attired," was creating a scene, and scaring people. He left, and later went to the library to research the statutes on trespassing. He also read the Constitution and determined he had a right to don his cave man suit and sit on Santa's knee in a mall. Back to the mall he went, on Dec. 10.

He refused to leave when mall security asked him to do so, and police were called in. Cpl. Jack Markert of the Baltimore County police department asked Mr. Jones to leave. When Mr. Jones refused, Corporal Markert arrested him and took him to the nearby White Marsh precinct where he was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Mr. Jones, a 43-year-old fire equipment inspector for Bethlehem Steel, represented himself yesterday, arriving in court with an armful of documents he had collected during hours of research in various law libraries. He also brought the "Reader's Digest Legal Guide," which Judge Russell refused to admit into evidence, saying, "That's where I draw the line."

"I had every right to be there," Mr. Jones told the court yesterday. "I've appeared in that costume in other malls, and in restaurants and bars without any problems. My daughter and fiancee, and my ex-wife, have similar costumes and have worn them in public."

Judge Russell said the issues were whether Mr. Jones had created a disturbance -- hence the disorderly conduct charge -- and whether the mall had the right to ask him to leave.

Mall security officer Pat Brant testified that Mr. Jones was drawing a crowd, scaring some children and talking to her in "cave man language," which she said she didn't understand. She cited signs posted throughout the mall which said appropriate attire, including shirts and shoes, were required.

Mr. Jones wasn't properly attired, she said.

Security officer Lonnie Metz testified that Mr. Jones's "rear and belly" were exposed and that his attire was "unbecoming." Mr. Metz and Ms. Brant agreed that Mr. Jones was not belligerent or threatening.

Mr. Jones cited a video in a mall store window which showed scantily-clad women, and said it was much worse than what he had done.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Russell said Mr. Jones had put up an admirable defense, had made some good points and was not guilty of disorderly conduct.

"However, a private business has an obligation to protect its customers when it thinks their welfare is threatened and has the right to ask someone to leave," Judge Russell said.

"When you refused to leave after being asked, you were committing trespass."

The judge asked Ms. Jones if the video had been submitted to "America's Funniest Home Videos."

"No," she answered. "Nothing funny happened that night."

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