Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hanging in the Balance

  Once home, I was felt dejected and more depressed than ever. It seemed  that I had to fight not only to get these girls the justice we all deserved, but the very prosecutor's office to get them to do their job. We kept in touch with the girls and that connection helped me find the strength and the drive to do whatever needed to be done. We sat down together and wrote letters to the editors of the Houston papers. We wrote  every politician from the Governor on down. People started reaching out to me. The head of child protective services called. She had never heard of this case and asked me why she hadn't. I told her that I couldn't answer that and she needed to talk to the DA. I did an interview with the local paper, aptly named The Vindicator. I just never gave up. I directed everyone to the DA's Office. Emmelee  stayed in foster care while this all played out and I was very thankful for that.

   Finally, the DA himself called me. He said he wanted a truce. They were going to move forward with charges. There would be a new trial and they would fly us in again. This time for the whole court case.

  Everything was different the next time. We had the same ADA and he was barely polite. I knew we couldn't participate in the first half of the trial, and it frustrated me greatly. It was so important that the jury knew the truth. On the first day of the trial we all filed into the courthouse to be sworn in. I looked at the jury. I tried to make eye contact, to telepathically make a connection with these people who had so much control over our lives. They mostly started straight a head or at the Judge.  When It was my turn to be sworn, I raised my hand and used my full name, including my maiden name. It was all I had, they knew we were prosecution witnesses. And so I hoped that they would get the connection. My last name and his. It was a little thing. All I had was little things. I could see my Father as we came in the courtroom. This monster of my childhood, who haunted my memories had morphed into a heavy set old man. There was nothing frightening about him at all. At least not to me. They kept us first in the witness room. Which had large windows that didn't open. It was Summer and the heat was stifling. The courthouse employees kept eyeing us, coming into the room and turning around to leave. It happened over and over through out the day.  I inquired with the woman in charge of letting us in and out. She said we were in their smoking room. The rules had just changed and there was to be no smoking.  So, in logic only capable of happening in a small Texas town, the staff had decided they would take their smoke breaks hiding in the only room of the building with no functioning windows. They had been nailed shut. Incase a witness changed their minds I guess.

  In another nod to strangeness, to get to the bathroom or the vending machines or any where really, we had to pass my father and his wife. They were stationed on a bench in the hall way. It was hard for the girls.  I walked them back and forth, staring at him the entire time. He never met my eyes. His wife would glance at us as we passed, but not him. He kept his head down. In his original trial there had been, I believe 27 counts, which included all three girls. This time there was one single count, the least serious of all of them. A fondling charge. There isn't a word that expresses my anger at the DA's office. It was a bullshit thing to do. It was done just to get their phones to stop ringing. There seemed to be no desire to put a child molester away, or to keep other children safe. I was indignant in my outrage. But I kept it in. I didn't want to upset the girls. I was worried. We weren't allowed in the courtroom to listen to each others testimony. After a few days the staff evicted us from that little blue walled witness room and we took up an outpost in the law library. It was much bigger with lots of windows that did open. No one thought we were going to try and make a run for it.

  We were at the courthouse every morning, leaving for meal breaks. Which we would spend at the Golden Carrel. We were running a tab there for all our meals. When we were out in town, everyone seemed to know who we were and why we were there. We got a lot of stares and a few questions, but mostly we were just left to ourselves.  I know it was just a few days. In my memory it seems like four. It might have been more or less a day, the time came for the jury to deliberate. I can't express the feelings of helplessness waiting for an answer, a verdict. These girls lives hanging in the balance. We were nervous and high strung. The stress was amazing. The wait excruciating. I began to wonder what would happen it he was found innocent. Could they really do that? If I could no longer see the monster he had was, how could this loose group of strangers be expected to? I prayed and I began to think of a plan B.

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