Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trial

June 20, 1994 was the first of a five day trial. My mother in law came to stay with me for the week and I was so grateful to have someone to live through the experience with me. My husband was dressed in a pair of khaki slacks, vest and shirt; he looked like himself again. Each morning he was allowed to get into his civilian, free-person costume and each evening he would change back into his green, punitive uniform. The third day of trial was his birthday. He turned 24 year old, but there would be no congratulations, no hugs, no celebration, just hope.

Most of the trial is a blur to me. The anxiety I was experiencing was so overwhelming, I couldn't focus on the words being said. What I do remember is the overall message about my husband being a "bad guy." The person they kept describing did not sound like him at all. Had he been half the 'thug' they claimed, he would have posted bail with no problem. Instead, he sat in County Jail for eight months. Time he could have used to prepare and defend himself. But like many others, he (we) had no resources to even hire an attorney. His future was in the hands of a public defender; overworked, cynical and without a chance of winning.

One juror made eye contact with me on several occasions. I couldn't figure out if he felt pity for me (one year old baby by my side) or if he judged me for supporting this "criminal" who was on trial. On the last day, both attorneys rested their cases and the jury was given their instructions and sent out to deliberate. I prayed, then I prayed some more... "Hail Mary..." over and over again. I bargained with God; offering promises and sacrifices. Til this day I have never felt so much stress I thought I would faint, I was shaking.

Then my husband's attorney made a startling revelation. In tears, she confessed that some time before his case, she had sued the judge... the very judge presiding over my husband's fate! She cried as she told us that she hoped the judge was offering her an olive branch when he assigned her to the case. But she realized that he only wanted to humiliate her. We knew at that moment that there was little hope. So I prayed harder.

When the jury was ready with a verdict we came back into the courtroom and sat in silence. I felt like I was having an out of body experience and I couldn't breathe. The jurors filed in and the same juror from before looked directly at me. Then he looked down and I knew. "GUILTY" was the verdict and I cried. I was so deeply saddened by the outcome; saddened for my husband, for his mother, for our daughter, for me, for our future. The judge announced that sentencing would take place in two months, I wept some more. Waiting for the sentence was a sentence in itself.

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