Halfsies! | Feature | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Longform

Halfsies!

Page 6 of 7

"Why are we spending time on whether Miss Arnett cried after riding a horse? Who cares if she cried? How is it relevant to the business deal? And what difference does it make if she cried every time she saw him?"

But Friedman, Arnett's attorney, soldiers on, pushing Müller to explain the 9/11 story.

"Isn't that a little fantastic?" a skeptical Friedman says.

"I don't know vat dat means," Müller says.

"Wouldn't that be like saying she was having wiener schnitzel with Otto von Bismarck on Mars?" Friedman says.

Uh, Müller says, "No."

"Does it really matter?" Marra wants to know.

"I'm just trying to get out whether he could believe something like that," Friedman says.

"I think you've made your point," says Marra, waving his hands like a traffic cop during rush hour.

"OK," Friedman says, taking his seat.

At that, Chapman asks one more question of Müller, and Friedman objects, probably for the thirtieth time that day; Marra sustains the objection, but Chapman doesn't understand.

"What was the objection?" asks Chapman, the lawyer who earlier had warned not to expect too much of him.

"It doesn't matter," Marra says. "It's sustained."

"We're never going to get out of here," Friedman says.

Marra: "You're right about that."


Next up, two members of the Muente fan club.

Amanda Strain, 33, testifies on Muente's behalf. She is a professional rider and competes in show-jumping competitions. She is able to shed a little more light on the frozen-funds story.

"Judith always had great admiration for her father as a chemist," says Strain, a brunet who is staying warm in a big sweater. "He was in nuclear waste cleanup."

Strain says she believes Arnett's bank accounts were frozen even though it didn't really make any sense to her.

"Weirder things have happened," she says.

Finally, Muente's lawyer calls his last witness — the woman who had chortled at Arnett while she was testifying on the first day of the hearing.

Erin Hancock, 25, clad in a purple Ralph Lauren cable-knit, is engaged to Muente's barn manager at San Jose Stables. She testifies that she wants to be clear: She and Muente are not romantically involved. She too takes the witness stand to bolster Muente's version of events.

Finally, Chapman rests his case.

Arnett's attorneys call one more witness — Chicago department store heir Marshall Field VI, who is the third and final man involved in this case who bears a striking resemblance to George Hamilton.

Field, 40, whose family no longer owns Marshall Field's Department Store, has the healthiest tan of the bunch. Though Field surely came to court in a car, it didn't look as if he'd sat down or even moved since dressing that morning. His blue-striped shirt was unwrinkled, the white collar stiff. And his yellow tie contrasted nicely with his dark-blue blazer.

Once engaged to Paul Newman's daughter, Field is himself a dashing horseman. He owns a farm in upstate New York and runs a business breeding, selling, and training horses. He and Arnett are friends, and she asked him to testify as a character witness after Muente had called her a liar.

"She's always been truthful with me" was all Field says. He was on and off the stand in less time than it took to ride up three flights in the elevator.

Field's apparent allergy to courtrooms could relate to past events. As part of a 1996 racketeering trial, federal prosecutors indirectly identified him as part of a conspiracy to kill competition horses to collect insurance money. He was never convicted or even formally accused. The old allegation didn't surface in the current case. (Chapman said he knew of Field's rumored involvement, but he thought it was old, unsubstantiated news.)


Day three, emergency hearing, federal court: As attorneys take turns making final remarks, Judge Marra interrupts with a simple, Solomonic solution: Why not sell Bam Bam, split the proceeds even-steven, and call it quits?

It was not to be.

Friedman and Chapman explain that their clients have become much too attached to the horse by this point. It is no longer about the money.

Friedman has a counterproposal: Arnett should get Bam Bam, and Marra should use his judicial authority to convert the three-day horse hearing into a final hearing so that His Honor wouldn't have to empanel a jury and hold a full-blown trial.

Marra: "It's very tempting."

In the end, the judge stops short of granting Arnett permanent custody, but he orders Muente to turn Bam Bam over to her until a jury can sort things out. And in a 14-page ruling issued February 22, Marra sides with Arnett, saying Muente had lied and acted in bad faith. "At this point... the evidence demonstrates that [Muente] sought to defraud [Arnett]," Marra wrote.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kelly Cramer

Latest Stories