The trail started yesterday and I am happy to say I did not fill up with hate when I got my first look at the defendants. In fact, with the antics of the defense lawyers, it would have been comical if it hadn't all been so sad. But the great show of support from Justin's friends who showed up and who are following the trial on blogs, facebook and twitter was an antidote to all that is sad about this whole thing. It's too early to make any predictions about the outcome but I have a couple of observations:
1. The lead prosecutor is ALMOST as cool and collected as Barack Obama. I am very impressed with him. His opening statement was organized, thorough, clearly articulated, and yet he struck a conversational tone. He remained unruffled by the numerous objections and motions to dismiss the case from the peanut gallery, uh, I mean the defense attorneys.
2. The defense attorneys are made up of these characters: a Ben Matlock lookalike, complete with heavy Southern drawl; a hack whose cross examinations seem to support the prosecutions case more than his client's; a couple of ill-prepared dolts who apparently have not done their due diligence; and a flamboyant African man who distorts the truth, uses flattery and humor to try to win over the jury, but who is the most entertaining and probably the most effective of all the defense attorneys.
3. Having said that, there's still no guarantee the the trial will go our way. Like I said, these defense lawyers made no less than 10 motions to dismiss in just one day and too many objections to count. They may wear down the judge's good judgment. They may influence the jury. Speaking of the jury--I just don't know. At least one juror for whom English is a second language admitted during voir dire that she 'didn't understand much' of what was being said. Ummm, how did she make it on the jury?
4. With four defendents and six defense attorneys, numerous State witnesses still to come and all the motions and objections, this trial may go on for two more weeks.
I walked out of the courtroom at one point to avoid seeing some video tape I didn't think I could handle. In the lobby sat the mother of one of the defendents. I looked at her and she looked at me, but we didn't say anything. After I sat there for a minute, I got up to introduce myself to her (she knew who I was). She began apologizing for "all of this," and telling me how much she has thought about our family and our loss, and how much she has been praying for us, and how sorry she is. She told me she had lost a son last Fall. We hugged. She admitted that nothing she could say would make a difference in this tragedy. I agreed. I said, "I wish you had known Justin. He was a good son." Then we parted. I'm still processing this encounter.
On a happy note, we took the children with us to court in the morning because the Atlanta traffic made it impossible to make it all the way to the babysitter's house and back in time for the opening statements. They behaved splendidly! But during the lunch break, we did take them to stay with her. As I expected, there were tears, but those stopped soon after we left. And as I hoped, the children came running into our arms when we returned.
Finally, kudos to JB Sr. (Justin's father) for how well he handled his time on the witness stand. He was the State's first witness who was there to "say who Justin was." He did it with great dignity and intelligence even though I know it was a tough time for him. And thanks "Jack" (Justin's uncle) for coming to Atlanta. Thanks BD for the get together after the day's ordeal. Thanks to Justin's friends and if I start naming names I will surely leave someone out, but you know who you are. And great thanks to the lead detective for ALL THAT HE HAS DONE AND IS STILL DOING TO BRING THESE YOUNG MEN TO JUSTICE.
- ▼ May (8)