I was the first witness on the stand. I was there ALL day. I will never forget feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, I thought they would be able to hear it on the microphone. I was catching hell from both sides, defense and DA.
My first statement to cops was good for my mother, the ones afterward, leading up to the trial, changed some and did not help as much. So both sides saw their chance to make me look like a liar or bend me to their will. It made me so sad to hear my moms attorney calling me a liar and just tearing me apart and watching my mother sit there and do nothing. Looking back I see she couldn't, she was paralyzed by fear and knew the only way to avoid life in prison was to possibly throw me to the wolves. And honestly, I am ok with that. It was scary then, and hard, but now, I understand. The ONLY thing you have to do to walk away free is create reasonable doubt.
I will start with the defense...
Of course they wanted to know about all the horrible things my father did. The beatings, the drunken rages, the drugs... They asked me about things that I had knowledge of but honestly had pushed away until they brought it up. I remember them asking about what he did to my little brother one night, over leaving the light one. My younger brother was about 5 and for some reason he was scared of the dark at the time. He was crying and wanted the night light on but my father would not hear of it. He was drunk, so when my brother peeked around teh corner of the bedroom door, trying to get my mothers attention, my dad saw him. I will never forget, he jumped up, grabbed my little brother by the throat and lifted him up in the air, several feet off the ground.
He started slamming my brother against the wall, calling him a little pussy and that real boys did not need night lights. My brother cried, his little feet swinging frantically, hitting the wall. He couldn't really make any noise though because my father was cutting his air off. I knew I had to do something, so mom and I started screaming at him to put him down, knowing if I could just turn him on me, he would let go of my brother. So, I hit him in the back, with all the strength my 8 year old arm could muster. It worked, he dropped my brother right there, I mean just opened his hand and let him fall to the floor and he grabbed me, I was smart, I tried to run but he caught the back of my gown. He took his leather belt off and grabbed me by one arm and held me there while he hit my legs and butt over and over with the belt. I was so sore the next day, he left welts, but then he always did.
I could see the hurt and disappointment in my grandma's face, my fathers mother, as I told these stories over and over, and it broke my heart. We had been living with her, and I know that she felt I was betraying her and my father, but I had to tell the truth, they asked me about each specific incident, my mom had already told them about these things, I was just the vehicle the defense used to tell the story and get sympathy from the jury, to show what a monster he was.
It was so hard each day, going home with my grandma after all of the things that were coming to light that she did nto know about my father. But she did know he was a drunk, she did know he beat my mother, and she did know he did not take care of us, so no matter what she may have chose to believe, she knew he was a bad man.
They almost broke me on that stand. They thought they did when I just "went out" not passed out, I was still awake, but I was not "there" anymore. But, more about that next time...