The Sentence Sealed With a Kiss


The Kiss Cam is a time-honored tradition of American sporting events. During time outs and other stoppages of play, the stadium events team — having already scoured the crowd for a target — focuses the cameras on a couple and puts their picture on the scoreboard. The unstated goal of the Kiss Cam is to pick a couple which will elicit a reaction from the crowd — for example, during a 2012 USA Basketball game, the scoreboard operators featured President and Mrs. Obama, as seen above. Countless headlines of this Presidential kiss followed, and the raw video of the kiss, on the AP’s YouTube channel here, has been viewed nearly two million times in the years since.

In most cases, though, an appearance on the Kiss Cam is hardly newsworthy. But like the Obama’s kiss, David Horton’s was an exception.

Horton was at a Cincinnati Reds game on May 7, 2003. Between innings, the Kiss Cam centered on Horton, then age 24, and his girlfriend. As the Cincinnati Enquirer explained, everything seemed to go smoothly: “As do most couples, Horton leaned in for a smooch, his lady reciprocated to the delight of the crowd, and then the camera operator searched for the next kissing candidates.” But there were a few problems that no one, least of all Horton, accounted for.

The first was that Horton was a convict. In 1999, he stabbed two men, earning himself a four-year prison sentence. He only served two years of the sentence — he was granted parole in October of 2002. But didn’t keep himself out of trouble afterward. In March of 2003, just a few weeks before the Reds game, Horton was arrested for possessing and trafficking cocaine. Perhaps fearing that the cocaine charges would put him back in prison, especially given his previous time running afoul of the law, Horton decided to skip his court date. He was a fugitive — but, as it turns out, not a very good one.

Horton’s parole officer didn’t know of the convict’s whereabouts. But like Horton, the parole officer enjoyed a baseball game now and again. Unfortunately for Horton, May 7, 2003, was one of the games the parole officer decided to attend. The officer saw Horton on the big screen, contacted a police officer at the stadium, and arrested Horton in his seat.

Horton was sentenced to four and a half years in prison — two on the drug charges and two and a half for the parole violation.

AnchorBonus Fact: The Cincinnati Reds were originally founded in 1882 as the “Cincinnati Red Stockings,” a reference to the red socks they wore as part of their uniforms. In 1890, the team changes its nickname to the much shorter “Reds,” which has — mostly — withstood the test of time. There was one exception, though. In 1953, the team decided to change its name, in fear of being associated with communists. Starting in the 1954 season and continuing through the 1959 campaign, the team in Cincinnati was known as the “Redlegs.”

From the Archives: Save Ferris… and Juan: The story of a guy who went to a baseball game and in doing so, ended up avoiding a wrongful conviction.

Take the Quiz: Name all the words in Red’s parole speech from The Shawshank Redemption.

Related: A 2003 Topps Cincinnati Reds Complete Team Set, consisting of 23 cards — but no David Horton.