As I looked down at my husband’s hand I realized I was squeezing it so tightly there was no circulation. His hand was white. I had only squeezed his hand in that manner once before, while giving birth to our baby boy, Drew. The first being a most joyous event, the next being the worst day of my life. Both times John chose to absorb half of my physical pain.
I listened as the judge sentenced our son to a 50-year-prison sentence. I could hear my son softly weeping. I knew he was innocent of the crime the judge found him guilty of committing. (I will get into those details soon in future posts…with transcripts to back me up.) I knew that the prosecution had NOT proven guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. My whole life I had trusted this to be part of what makes our country great, and sets us apart…our judicial system demands proof beyond all reasonable doubt before an innocent person would be sent to prison.
I sat in disbelief. Numb. Had the judge not heard what the rest of us had just heard? Even his own bailiff was looking at him with confusion. The bailiff looked at our son with such compassion, his head turning back to look at the judge…and then back sadly at our son.
We had been in the courtroom all day. It was now early evening. I was exhausted and emotionally depleted. I laid my head on my husband’s shoulder as tears ran down my face. A moment later two officers approached and said I would have to leave the courtroom. What? Why? I wasn’t crying loudly, I wasn’t yelling or disruptive. I asked why. They said I was not allowed to lay my head on John’s shoulder. I told them I would sit up, but that I couldn’t leave, my son needed me there for support. They demanded that I stand immediately or they would remove me from the courtroom. I stood. I took one step before fainting in the aisle.
The next thing I remember is feeling my husband rubbing my hand, and hearing the officers asking him if I had a seizure disorder. I heard him tell them no, that I had just watched as my innocent, handicapped son was given a long prison sentence. They wanted to call an ambulance but John said no. A wheelchair was brought instead. As I was helped into the wheelchair I was scanning the courtroom looking for my son. There was only one person remaining in the courtroom – the prosecutor. I will never forget the look on her face. She could not have backed herself against the wall any further away from me than she did. Her jaw dropped open, her eyes wide. She looked as if she had just watched a horror movie. She had. One she helped write and starred a leading role in.
Everything sounded strange. Voices were muffled. It was way too quiet. Where was my son? As I was wheeled through the large double doors into the hallway I noticed almost everyone was crying, including some of the men.
Injustice is difficult to watch. Gut wrenching to feel.