It's a strange world.
Today...while browsing headlines back home, I found the recent homicide victim was someone I knew. I knew him personally and professionally. Odd how life just happens. He was the wrong man. The suspect meant to kill someone else.
The victim was the foremen on the jury of my first high profile trial. Most of my early high profile cases were plead out and did not go to trial because of overwhelming evidence or the suspects wanted less time than a jury would give them because the cases were solid.
This one made it to the jury. It was the trial that changed how I investigated child molesters.
I was on the stand for hours...over 5 to be exact and getting drilled by the defense. My prosecutor took me to dinner after recess and explained he was very proud of my testimony and couldn't believe how well I was doing. I was to start up again the next day. It was also the first time I was complimented by a judge.
It still didn't matter. Evidence didn't matter. DNA didn't matter. My testimony didn't matter. The expert testimony did not matter.
The suspect was acquitted on the child sexual assault and found guilty on the drug trafficking. He was a "turd" that wore leather, piercings, and baggy pants sold drugs and did burglaries, vandalisms, and beat up people. Although strange, he was not your typical child molester on the outside. On the inside, he was a very sinister kid.
The defense dressed him like Urkel with dark rimmed glasses and a tie, pants too short. It was so far off his mug shot. We had to show the jury what he looked like in every day life by displaying pictures of his every day life and mug shot.
The case had an eye witness. The case had DNA. In fact, the witness saw him fondle the infant and was appalled, called the police after nearly escaping the apartment with the baby and cooperated with the investigation.
The suspect's left hand became significant. The witness could not distinguish what finger. We arrived on scene afterward. The suspect had not washed his hands (his admission) and admitted to being around the infant and caring for it.
The infant's DNA was discovered underneath his fingernail on his left index finger(s). Not on his right hand or right fingers. Not on his left hand, but on his left index finger. They were all clean of her DNA, just the one area. The infant had vaginal tearing and bleeding. Not on the outside. On this inside. Blood was found in her diaper and underneath the suspect's fingernail. A medical exam was performed by a doctor. The doctor testified to sexual assault as the cause of the injuries by an object. The object was consistent with a finger or other instrument. There was no other medical explanation or disease.
So why did they acquit? We polled the jury. They loved me. They thought I was an incredible investigator and were clinging onto every word I said. True. Those are not my words, but words from my prosecutor as he relayed all this to me on that day. They didn't like the mother who was bi-polar and off her meds. She didn't testify well. She broke down. She got angry. She almost stomped off the stand because she was insulted by the defense accusing her of being a horrible mother. Was she? She wasn't the best, but her baby was healthy and happy. She truly loved the infant. Her house was neat and tidy. She had a job. She didn't do drugs. She didn't drink. She just had a mental disorder.
The jury passed judgement on her because they "didn't like her" and felt she was not a good mother for NOT taking her meds. What did that have to do with the case? Absolutely nothing. It didn't matter in my investigation nor my opinion of her and I testified to that fact. It mattered to the jury. I still don't know why except they were ignorant.
It's the superfluous information that the public doesn't know that comes out in trials that I find incredibly hard to wrap my brain around. Crazy.
I remember this homicide victim hanging his head and looking away when they dismissed the jury. I looked at every one of them. Not scowling, not judgmental. I just wanted to look at their faces and see if I could get any glimpse of why. After the polling of the jury, I was still disheartened, but I had to live with their decision.
I saw him on occasion afterward and he was nice, professional, and friendly. He was a good person and well thought of in the community. There was still that intense week of court that we shared in common, but it was an area we didn't approach or speak of, but we both knew. It was a nod. His decision that day as a juror, and my disappointment that my case wasn't good enough...that was our cloud.
Later, after the suspect was released, he broke into the infant's mother's house and took property, beat her, and got caught exiting the structure with a cut arm. He slashed her tires. He tortured her any day he could. He went to prison. He got out. He sold drugs. He went to jail. He got out. It's a cycle.
Will it always bother me? It's a thorn. It doesn't control my life.
It's a tragedy about the foreman.