Willie Nelson, in St. Martinville

Marsha Sills
msills@theadvertiser.com

ST. MARTINVILLE -Songwriter and singer Willie Nelson’s court appearance in St. Martinville on Tuesday always will be on the minds of those women who met him as he left the courthouse.For the small group of fans, including courthouse employees who gathered outside, Nelson was their fallen angel for the day.

On Wednesday, courthouse employees thumbed .jpg files on digital cameras.”One lady told him, ‘I’ve been loving you since I was a little girl!’ and he said, ‘Come here, you are so sweet,’ and hugged her and gave her a kiss. He was so nice,” gushed Lori Breaux, a courthouse employee.

Nelson’s visit wasn’t a surprise fan day – but court-mandated.

On Tuesday, Nelson and his tour manager, David Anderson, stood before Judge Paul deMahy on misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges.

The charges stemmed from their stop in St. Martin Parish in September, compliments of a Louisiana State Police trooper conducting a routine commercial vehicle stop.

The trooper seized a pound and a half of marijuana and two-tenths of a pound of hallucinogenic mushrooms on the bus.

Though the amount of drugs found were enough for a felony charge and arrest, five others on the bus, including Nelson’s sister and bus drivers, all claimed that the drugs were theirs.

Divvying up the less than two pounds of illegal drugs amounted to simple possession charges.

All were cited, but only the charges against Nelson and Anderson, 50, Dallas, actually stuck.

In court, both men were ordered to pay $1,024 each and were sentenced to a 60-day jail sentence that was suspended and six months’ probation.

Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars didn’t put the hearing on the docket to prevent a “media circus,” he said.

But a secret like Nelson in the building didn’t keep long.

Vondella Filer works security at the front door.

“I didn’t get to see him,” Filer said. “They took him in through the side door. I wish I could have gotten a picture with him.”

Though Nelson and Anderson’s attorneys had asked if the court could waive its requirement for both men to appear, Cedars refused.

“I wanted him here just like anyone else,” Cedars said.

By the time Nelson pleaded guilty to the charges upstairs and walked out of the elevator, fans were waiting.

As soon as he walked off the elevator, Genie Willis, who works in the clerk of court’s office, asked him for an autograph.

He stopped to sign his name and chat until a bailiff said it was time to move on.

“To me, he would have stayed longer if he could have,” she said.

The fanfare about Nelson didn’t sit well with the prosecutor.

“I found that the reaction to Mr. Nelson somewhat disconcerting to me because at the end of the day, he’s a 70-year-old person who was caught with drugs in his possession,” Cedars said.

The prosecutor admitted that he was no Nelson fan.

“I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket,” he said.

Outlaw living, lost love and souls are part of Nelson’s repertoire of songs he’s penned and sung.

It’s been rough and rocky travelin’… Almost busted in Laredo, but for reasons, that I’d rather not disclose. But if you’re stayin’ in a motel there and leave, just don’t leave nothing in your clothes …”

Though it appears he may have a verse to add about his romp in St. Martinville, another song played through the minds of the those who waved him off Tuesday.

Even Cedars admitted he couldn’t help thinking of Nelson’s iconic song after his brush with the music legend.

“Bottom line, we got ’em on the road again,” Cedars said.

That song was hummed as his fans waved him off, Breaux said.

“And he was still smiling and waving,” she said. “It was like he belonged here in South Louisiana.”

Filer nodded her head.  “It was so St. Martinville.”

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