House Arrest Versus ‘Free Bird’

A judge in Cleveland has ruled that taking a business client to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert does not violate house arrest rules.

Cleveland resident Firas Essa pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and tampering with records stemming from helping his brother flee the country to avoid an aggravated murder charge. The brother, Yazeed Essa, eventually returned to the U.S. to stand trial for the 2005 cyanide death of his wife.

Prosecutors charged Firas Essa last week with violating terms of his house arrest by attending a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at Blossom Music Center. Essa countered that he was entertaining a business client and that he arrived home well before the house arrest’s midnight curfew.

Essa faced up to 10 years in the big house if the judge agreed with prosecutors. However, Judge Daniel Gaul ruled Essa was well within his rights and had abided by the terms of the house arrest.

Evidently the decision didn’t sit well with Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer. The paper ran a brief editorial in its “Cheers & Jeers” column, describing the judge’s ruling worthy of the latter.

“Of course, all this unpleasantness could have been avoided if Common Pleas Judge Daniel Gaul, who has already eased the terms of Essa’s confinement to the point that he must stay home only between midnight and 9 a.m., had just ordered Skynyrd to play at Essa’s house,” the Plain Dealer said.