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Attorney asks for day off trial to enter Ernest Hemingway look-a-like contest

Charles Bicht is congratulated by previous winners of the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West, Fla., on July 24, 2010.
Charles Bicht is congratulated by previous winners of the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West, Fla., on July 24, 2010.Andy Newman / Getty Images North America

A Florida attorney representing a man accused in a murder-for-hire plot filed for a trial suspension for an unusual reason: He wanted a day off to participate in an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest.

Frank Louderback, of St. Petersburg, asked U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday to suspend the trial on Friday, July 20, so he could drive to Key West to participate in the annual competition, The Miami Herald reported.

Louderback represents Jerry Bottorff, who's accused of conspiracy to commit murder for hire in the 2007 killing of 37-year-old Thomas Lee Sehorne. 

The Herald reported that Bottorff and his wife, Christie, who is the victim's widow, and alleged gunman Luis Lopez will stand tria starting July 9. 

Louderback's plan was to be in Key West on July 21 for the crowning of the winner who most resembled the influential American author who penned "For Whom The Bell Tolls," "The Old Man and the Sea," and other works of fiction.  

He has already paid non-refundable deposits for hotel rooms for friends and family members, according to the Herald.

Judges have been known not to hold court on Fridays during lengthy trials, the Tampa Bay Times reported. But Judge Merryday wasn't persuaded by Louderback's request.

Louderback told that he thought his motion had a chance of being granted.

"Instead he came with his literary gem," Louderback said. 

Merryday wrote: "Between a murder-for-hire trial and an annual look-alike contest, surely Hemingway, a perfervid admirer of grace under pressure, would choose the trial." 

He quoted poet Dorothy Parker, who once wrote that Hemingway "works like hell and through it."

After quoting from "The Sun Also Rises," Merryday made his decision: "Best of luck to counsel in next year’s contest. The motion is denied."

In response, Louderback told The Times, "It'll give me another year to get older, fatter and grayer."

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The Times reported that Louderback has already competed in the contest three times, which is part of Key West's annual Hemingway Days festival. The festival pays homage to the Nobel Prize winner, who lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s.

Last year, more than 120 competitors participated in the contest.

Louderback told he was "disappointed" by Merryday's ruling but will still keep his place in the contest in case he can make it. 

His son is a pilot and had offered to fly Louderback to Key West in case he gets out of court early.

"I'll ask them (contest officials) to put me in the back somewhere even though it's done alphabetically," Louderback said. "That may buy me an hour or so."

A call to Merryday's office was not immediately returned.

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