[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
For §§ 1-110 (Chapters 1-18), see here.
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 114
Chapter 19 (4 of 13): Trial – Phase One
An anticipatory hush now hangs over the court room. Total attention is focused on the willowy figure of Natalie Siu.
She bows her head slightly and clasps her hands in front of her. She dips her knees slightly and then looks up at the jurors and very briefly holds the eyes of each one.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are all here for a serious purpose. A very serious purpose.” She begins pacing slowly before the jury box, forcing her audience to follow her with their heads. “The community has lost a vital and brilliant citizen. A beautiful young woman is dead. Not only dead, but brutally murdered. Trinh Cao has lost her life to unspeakable violence. Her parents have lost a daughter. Can any of us even begin to understand what it is to lose a child?” She shakes her head in sadness. “The prosecutor has told you the community needs justice; I agree. The prosecutor has told you this kind of … of senseless outrage must be prevented from ever happening again; I agree. The prosecutor has tried to make a case before you that my client,” here Natalie turns and points to Mazarine, who is sitting upright and emotionless at the defense table, “is guilty; here I respectfully disagree.”
She pauses to scan the faces of the jurors once more. She has their total attention.
“If she is judged guilty by you, the members of the jury, who now are our community, she should be punished with all the severity allowed by law. But at the end of the prosecutor’s case and our case, you must have no reasonable doubt about her guilt. Otherwise, if the evidence presented by the prosecutor does not persuade you of my client’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you have no choice but to find her innocent and acquit. That is our system of justice. And it is my firm conviction that in the course of this trial we shall demonstrate that innocence far, far beyond any reasonable doubt.”
Natalie starts slowly to walk back to her table but stops and swivels in mid-stride. “And, yes, in this connection there are two other points I wish to ask your kind indulgence to allow me to bring up.
“First, the prosecution has made much of the fact that my client is a … works for an escort service. No, let’s not sugarcoat anything here. We are all adults and we know the world as well as the word. She is a prostitute. Pure and simple. And Mr. Kerzy very much wants you to keep thinking about this and drawing hateful inferences, to prejudice you. But I remind you that you have all sworn a solemn oath to follow only the evidence, the evidence that is presented to you in this court of law, right here in this room, and nothing else, in making your determination of guilt or innocence. Whether she drives little boys to soccer games or escorts grown men to other kinds of games has no bearing whatsoever on that guilt or innocence.” Here a titter in the court room brought a stern gaze from the judge, at both the gallery and the defense attorney, and it abated as rapidly as it had arisen. “We are here only to make a determination about her guilt or innocence in the murder of poor Trinh Cao. That, and nothing else, ladies and gentlemen.”
Natalie comes up close to the jury box and walks slowly along the dark cherry wood railing, her tapered fingers with their clear-polished nails massaging the smooth banister.
“And here is the second point. The prosecution asks you to find my client guilty and so prevent a monster from being let loose on our unsuspecting community. A very powerful point. In my turn, I shall ask you, for the sake of argument, just to make the assumption, just to assume for the moment, that my client is innocent, but you convict. Then there is still a monster out there somewhere in our city who will strike some other beautiful young woman who is also a daughter, a daughter of some other mother and father. But the police will not be looking for that individual – until after he has committed a second merciless murder. After all, they already have their killer, don’t they?”
She pauses to let her words slip into their awareness and begin to build a home.
“You must truly ask yourself at the end of this trial if my client really did have, as the prosecutor would have it, means, motive and opportunity to murder Trinh Cao. Beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Thank you very much for your careful attention, ladies and gentlemen.”
Natalie walks back in a slow loping gait to her place next to Mazarine and sits down.
The battle orders have been drawn, and there is an excited hubbub in the audience. People turn to each other and comment on the opening statements. Judge Lombard-Golde raps her gavel once. “Please, ladies and gentlemen, the only talking in this courtroom will be done by myself, the lawyers and witnesses. I ask the rest of you to restrain your verbal impulses. However, if you must talk, please leave the room quietly and go into the hallway,” she admonishes, and then adds pointedly, “and give up your seat to somebody else. I understand that there is a long line waiting outside.”
Nobody fails to catch the drift of her subtext and the din of voices is immediately hushed.
She addresses herself to the D.A. “Please call your first witness, Mr. Kerzy,” she says.
“The People call Officer Benny Jameson to the stand.”
All eyes turn around and watch the door from the hallway open as a police officer makes his way confidently down to the witness box, where he is sworn in by a court officer.
Kerzy marches up to him.
“Good morning, Officer Jameson,” he says, smiling, affable, relaxed.
“Good morning, sir,” Jameson responds and shifts his heft in the seat.
“I’d like you to tell us, please, as briefly as possible, what your duties as a police officer are.”
TO BE CONTINUED