The room was uncannily hushed when we filed into the jury box. The thrill of serving on a high-profile case was tempered by being in a position of public scrutiny if we screwed up the verdict.
For the first two days, we heard testimony from specialists and hired experts. Without our binder of documents, it would have been impossible to understand all the legal jargon.
The defendant was finally scheduled to take the stand, and the gallery was filled to capacity by the morbidly curious. News pundits were predicting a brutal cross-examination from Assistant District Attorney Bonnie Post, a woman on a campaign against domestic violence, and for her boss’ high-backed leather chair.
Looking uncomfortable in his suit and tie, the defendant kept nervously tugging at his tight collar. When answering questions from his attorney, he leaned awkwardly toward the microphone at the witness stand, until the judge told him he didn’t need to move.
After an hour, Post stepped up. The hatred she felt toward him was palpable.
“Do you feel like a man when you push her around?” She wasted no time in her attack. “Do you beat all your girlfriends?”
The judge fielded objections from his attorney on nearly every question the ADA posed.
“Why did you try to kill the victim?”
“I didn’t try to kill her,” his voice rising. “After I made it rain at the restaurant, throwing all her whore money back in her face, she came at me.”
“She’s nearly half your size, you expect the court to believe you felt threatened?” Post added a condescending chuckle to punctuate her question.
“Her size didn’t matter,” bringing his volume back under control. “A knife can kill big people too. I pushed her to get away from that switchblade. It wasn’t the first time she tried to cut me.”
Unbuttoning his shirt, he revealed crisscrossed pink scars on his chest, evidence of prior attacks.
“Women aren’t the only victims of domestic violence.”
I gave Julia Mae this prompt: Interpret the quote however you want, and you don’t have to use the actual quote: “The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.”–Zora Neale Hurston