The Candy Cane is Mightier than the Knife

Never piss off or threaten someone with a Christmas lawn ornament. I bet Donald Kercell, of Sacramento, will be thinking of that the next time he wields a knife at neighbors who are gathered outside.

Donald Kercell

Donald Kercell

Kercell’s neighbors were hanging outside on Thanksgiving. Drunk and clearly stupid, he wandered over to their house going after them with a knife.

After cutting the clothing of a few of the neighbors (there were reports of minor injuries) one of them decided to fight back and pummeled Kercell into submission with a 2-foot long plastic candy cane lawn decoration.

Was that candy cane solid plastic or the kind made of thin plastic with the lights running through it? If it was the latter, there is no question that Mr. Kercell is the most pathetic individual of 2008. He was beaten to the ground by a fragile piece of plastic.

Why Kercell went over to the house is still unknown as of this writing but I have to figure that being alone and drinking on Thanksgiving could have played a part in the anger and then to see his neighbors having a jovial time out on the lawn could have set him off.

So now Kercell has something else to hang his head about. You have a knife and you getting beaten by a man with a piece of plastic. Good thing a garden gnome wasn’t involved.

candy-caneKercell was arrested for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Meanwhile, the Candy Cane Vigilante was determined to be acting in self-defense and thus was not arrested.

So Christmas saves Thanksgiving for these Sacramento residents.

From the ‘I Swear I’m not Making this up’ file.


Sweet Smackdown:  Man Beats Attacker — With Candy Cane

Attacker Beaten with Candy Cane, Police Say

* * * * *

Part II – So who exactly is Donald Kercell?

On May 19, 2007, The Sacramento Bee published a story written by Steve Wiegand, who probably never expected anyone to read this story a year and a half later.

A Concrete reform try in Danger describes Kercell as a then 48-year old concrete working meth-head.

May 19–Don Kercell thinks he’s earned a second chance.

The Contractors State License Board does not agree.

And therein lies a tale of choices and consequences; crime and punishment; addiction and rehabilitation; public protection and personal redemption — and second chances.

Kercell is a 48-year-old resident of Rio Linda. In his youth, he discovered two things. One was that he had a talent for working with concrete.

The other was methamphetamine.

The former, coupled with an impressive work ethic, kept Kercell gainfully employed much of the time. The latter put him in prison.

“I guess I started (doing meth) when I was 20,” he said in an interview. “I’ve done drugs half my life, but I’ve always worked.”

In 1995, at the age of 36, Kercell’s life hit the skids. Over the next decade, he was convicted of, and served time for, an array of crimes that included drug possession, possession of an assault weapon, battery and drug manufacturing.

While doing a three-year term at Soledad, he was pushed “kicking and screaming” into a full-time drug rehabilitation program.

“They had a lot of good things to say,” Kercell said. “There were some things I disagreed with, but the bottom line is I’m done with it, and I’ve been clean and done everything right since I got out.”

Kercell had previously done time – for battery. I also guess he was making his own meth. I am sad to report here that the last sentence is no longer true. Now he can add that he was beaten by a plastic candy cane to his list.

That was in March 2005. After working here and there, Kercell answered a help wanted ad placed by Jim Alexander Concrete Construction in September.

“I’d say 99 percent of the guys who answer those ads are worthless,” Alexander told me, “but it was clear from the start that Don knew what he was doing.”

Alexander said Kercell is not only a whiz when it comes to concrete work, but a model employee: “He hits the job running, he is reliable, he’s easygoing and he’s honest.”

In late 2005, Kercell decided to try and get his own concrete contractors license, as a way to make more money and be able to legally freelance side jobs while working for Alexander. He took a course to prep him for the exam, paid his fees, posted his bond and aced his test.

But the CSLB rejected his application. According to board spokesman Rick Lopes, it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to Kercell’s drug and prison past. Nearly a fifth of all license applicants have criminal histories, Lopes said. But fewer than 4 percent are denied licenses on that basis. Those denied fall into three general categories of offenses: burglary, consumer fraud and violent acts.

“Our main role is to protect consumers,” Lopes said, “and if there are concerns, we are always going to err on the side of not granting the license.”

The board’s concern that tripped up Kercell’s chances has to do with a fight he had nine years ago. In 1998, Kercell said, he was returning from visiting his mom in Arizona when he got into a fight with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant at the Sacramento airport.

Kercell says the other guy swung first. But airport security cameras weren’t working, and Kercell’s word as an ex-con was considered less than golden. Because he was already doing time on a parole violation, he agreed to plead no contest to the battery charge since he wasn’t facing any additional jail time.

“I never should have done it (pleaded out),” Kercell said. “I never would have if I’d known it would cause this trouble.”

Honest, hardworking and violent. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve seen a flight attendant take a swing at a customer.

On June 6, Kercell will take his appeal of the board’s denial before an administrative law judge. If the judge turns him down, Kercell’s only practical choice is to wait a few more months and reapply.

“All I want is a license,” he said. “I’m through with drugs, with all the trouble it causes.

“I just want a second chance.”

Now Kercell is going to get his second chance . . . . IN THE BIG HOUSE.


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