My dad was killed in December 1983 so the murder trial did not start until 1984. I was ten years old. It was winter and I remember where we had to park was a long walk, or seemed to be to a kid. By this point several months had passed and my mom had kind of gone out of her mind, so we had went to live with my paternal grandmother and my grandfather. He was my step grandfather but had been married to my grandma since before I was born so to me, he was Papa, the real deal.
I think the stress of the upcoming trial, the fact she had killed her husband, lived like a caged animal her whole life, and was now facing life in prison, all contributed to my mom sort of "losing it". She had always been a good mother, but the last few months I had seen things I would never wipe from my memory.
No one wanted me at the trial but I was the state and defenses *STAR* witness. I was scheduled to testify first but I was determined to see it through. I told my granny that I had lived through everything thta had happened, I had been there when he was killed and sat by him waiting for police to arrive, so there was nothing that could be said that I did not already know. So against everyone's better judgement, they let the ten year old run the show, make my own decision and allowed me to sit through the entire two week long trial.
I will never forget the bailiff that handled the case. Everyday I came in, he had a paper water cup under my seat waiting with a few pieces of candy and a silver dollar. I wish I could find him and thank him, he has no idea how much that helped. Oddly enough, I work for the County now in the very same court house that my mothers trial was in. I had lunch with the very Judge that presided over my mothers case twice last week. I see the man who was the district attorney at the time and prosecuted my mother, daily in the elevators. He is now a judge himself. I sometimes go upstairs to the old jail (we have a new one now) that housed my mother. That floor of the court house has long been deserted and it is eerie up there, but I can assure you if those walls could talk, they would tell the most horrific stories. I think of my mother, as bashful as she was, having to use a commode in the corner of a cell, completely exposed where a dozen other women were housed, with cells holding dozens of others all around, open to see. How frightening that must have been.
You want to know the really eerie thing? My mothers case was the very first of it's kind in our state at the time (I will explain that more later) so turns out, it was pretty important. Anyway, I work in one of the divisions there, and the perspn before I came there kept EVERYTHING and one of my jobs when I first started in 2008 my boss wanted me to do was clean out the predecessors files, 30 years worth of paper!! When I was doing this, I ran across a picture of my mother with a front page caption from the trial. It had been cut out from the newspaper. My stomach flipped, I thought I would be sick. My boss asked me what was wrong, I started to shake and was white as a ghost. I did not know what to say, what to tell him, I mean I did not want to lie, I know they do extensive background checks upon hiring so I felt he may know already and was testing me.
So I told him, the file was my mothers, and the "basic" outline of the events that had taken place. There scattered, were various newspaper clippings and notes from the trial. You have no idea at that moment, it was like I could not find my breath, it was like running into a brick wall at 50 miles per hour, I was just not prepared for running across that information, and doing so in front of someone else.
I waas always a strong willed child,, independent, took care of others, so I thought I was ready to handle this trial thing. I had been a little confused, had given statments leading up to the trial that were not always the most consistent. During the time before the trial my mother and i really grew apart. I was so angry at her for the person she had become. I did not understand why she had changed so much, why she did n't take care of us anymore, why she stayed drunk, why she was sleeping with these men that I caught her with. I was constantly pouring her beer out whenver I stayed with her, because I HATED the way she talked, the way she moved, the way she smelled when she drank.
My number was up, it was time. I was so scared all of the sudden
What was the right truth? I sat down in the chair and i was too short to reach the microphone, they had to adjust it. They told me to state my name, and I could not find my voice, I was so embarrassed. I had planned this in my head over and over. I was going to be a big girl. But sitting in that chair, in front of that room full of people, cameras and media, I felt like the smallest person in the world. I felt like that chair was going to swallow me up. I almost prayed that it would.
"Do you solemly swear that everything you say will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?"
"What is your relationship to the defendant"
"She is my mommy"
"What is your relationship to the deceased"
"Who is that?"
"To the person who was killed"
"He was my daddy"